For his second solo exhibition at the Gallery, American artist Jeff McMillan (b. 1968) will present new works from an extensive, slow series of paintings alongside recent woodblock prints made in Rome.
McMillan's paintings result by applying thin veils of oil paint to stretched antique linen which are then attached to the exterior of the artist's London studio for a number of years. This gradually changing outdoor installation of dozens of works is like a cross between Mondrian's New York studio wall and the house of a self-taught artist from the Deep South. The paintings on the façade encounter sun, rain, and pollution and so evolve and discolour over time until McMillan returns them inside the studio to create the finished works. Each one addresses a simple proposition for a painting - some are simply pinned or framed, others folded to become sculptural, even architectural. They all have a shared history, and are in themselves history paintings, bearing the marks of their own particular time and place.
McMillan created his first series of woodblock prints while resident in Rome in 2020. Inspired by the composite marble designs in the floors of Roman churches and ideas of spoglia (the re-use or recycling of ancient architectural materials), the artist gathered found wood in the form of discarded furniture, pallets, and even centuries-old timbers from buildings in restoration. By combining these boards into simple blocks for printing he creates an amalgam of both contemporary and historic Rome, each hand-printed work imparting the textures of the city itself.
Jeff McMillan's recent works are rapidly gaining wider recognition. In 2019 Koenig Books published the artist's first monograph Biblio, based on his series of the same name; it included essays by Bill Sherman, Director of the Warburg Institute and Booker-nominated novelist Deborah Levy. For the series Biblio, a library of formative books the artist shipped to the UK when he re-located to London in the late 1990s, were individually wrapped and dipped into ink or oil paint to create each new painting. Work from this series has been acquired by numerous private collectors and by the Whitworth Museum, Manchester. In 2020 the TATE (London) bought 9 works from the Biblio series for their collection.
McMillan's work is held in private and public collections in Europe and the United States including TATE (London), the Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester), San Antonio Museum of Art (Texas) and Museum Voorlinden (the Netherlands).
Press release courtesy Kristof De Clercq gallery.