Kaye Donachie at Maureen Paley

I have talked about art being fun and having different functions, which is important in a changing market and with evolving gallery and art fair models, but sometimes it is nice to look at art, for me especially painting, and simply embrace how beautiful the subject matter and techniques are to the eye. In a single room at Maureen Paley, E2, viewers are treated to a new body of work by British artist Kaye Donachie. With stunning, thick slicks and intricate fine lines in oil paint, portraits of women in history are presented in the artist's distinctive style, and can be appreciated as both individual works and collectively, due to the seamless themes and curation presenting a small selection of work, emphasising a small volume of high quality.

Kaye Donachie, I That Know You, 2018. Oil on linen, 61cm x 42cm. Maureen Paley, London.

'Silent as Glass' as a title is significant, poignant and poetic in maintaining the themes within the show. Tranquil, free-flowing colours used by the artist evoke a sense of deep reflection throughout the exhibition. We are regularly reminded of the dialogue between subject matter, artist and viewer, due to the fact that while the portraits are highly recognisable and realistic, they retain the artist's distinct style and are not hyperrealistic. Each piece has input from sitter, artist and viewer alike.  

Other than the delicate portraits of female figures on display, the gallery has also selected two works which open the show, 'We Together' and 'Delirious Verses', which have a still life aesthetic and visual code, while maintaining Donachie's stunning and calming blue and grey palettes. Titles are noticeably peculiar in that they read like quotes from literature or poetry; this serves to create another mystical edge around the paintings and develop the artist's persona as increasingly curious. 

Kaye Donachie, Loneliness of Night, 2018. Oil on linen, 60cm x 45cm. Maureen Paley, London.

'Silent as Glass' is also interesting from an architectural perspective, as the differently coloured walls add a considerable amount to the viewing process. Using only three of the four walls available, the final wall is printed with another of Donachie's works; the piece, 'Untitled', is a different example of the artist's practice, a digital print on paper which acts as a background to the arrestingly beautiful 'Young Moon' painting. 'Untitled' evokes a different sensation to the other works, yet continues to highlight the solitude and quiet pensiveness of the exhibition, although no single piece does this better than 'Loneliness of Night', again using the same blue palette but also layering and perspective to tell a story of loss, fractured identity and life's journey.

Kaye Donachie, Young Moon, 2018. Oil on linen, 50cm x 40.5cm. Maureen Paley, London.

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