Danielle McKinney | Fly On The Wall

The first solo exhibition in Italy of the US painter and photographer Danielle McKinney features a series of new paintings alongside a curated selection of her existing works.

by GRIOT - Published on 22/03/2024
Danielle Mckinney, Sandman, 2024, © Danielle Mckinney, COURTESY the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen. Photo: Pierre Le Hors

In the Anglo-Saxon world, the phrase “fly on the wall” is often used as a metaphor to describe observing a given situation without the subject being noticed or involved. This implies the ability to witness events and conversations in the most authentic, unfiltered way, offering unique perspectives and views of what is happening behind closed doors. Being a “fly on the wall,” an unseen observer of human behavior, allows one to gain valuable knowledge and understanding.

McKinney’s works originate in the exploration of the female subject. Trained as a photographer, the artist had always been practicing painting, took as the primary medium of her work since 2020, although photographic elements continue to influence her practice. The artist builds her compositions from a completely black canvas, resulting in scenes that emerge from the darkness in chiaroscuro. The starting point for her works are often images found online, in magazines, and most importantly other paintings, which McKinney uses to analyze the nuances of gestures, colors and shapes, revisiting the tradition of model painting in a contemporary way. The found images of subjects and interiors are then collaged to make a new image.

Danielle Mckinney, Shelter, 2024, Exhibition view, Fondazione Sandretto. Photo: GRIOT

The artist exposes us to private, meditative moments. The figures, exclusively black and female, portrayed in the foreground in placid domestic interiors, guard moments of solitude. Captured in moments of introspection, leisure, or rest, with painterly lyricism, they are oblivious to the fly, the artist herself or perhaps the viewing public. The unawareness of its presence is reflected in the spontaneity of feelings and movements, complicit in the sense of safety and security one feels in the intimacy of one’s own space. Women and their energy are what really attract the artist’s gaze: whether sleeping or smoking, sitting or lying down, they convey a sense of freedom, opening up opportunities for endless narrative threads.

The atmospheric compositions of the canvases, electrified by deep hues of blues, greens and yellows and ochres and vivid shadows to enhance the moods and emotions of the subjects portrayed, have a magnetic pull, allowing anyone who enters the spaces, subjects portrayed or spectators, to feel at ease.

Danielle Mckinney, Eventide, 2024, Exhibition view, Fondazione Sandretto. Photo: GRIOT

Danielle McKinney has a BFA from Atlanta College of Arts in 2005 and an MFA from Parsons School of Design in 2013. Mckinney’s works are part of numerous museum collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX. Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town(2023); IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY, The Contemporary Austin, TX (2022); and Black Melancholia, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY(2022). Mckinney lives and works in Jersey City, NJ. She is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery and Galerie Max Hetzler.

Danielle McKinney
Fly on the Wall
March 19th – 13 October 2024
Fondazione Sandretto
Via Modane, 16, Turin, Italy

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