What began as a leisurely post-avo-toast morning walk a few weekends ago progressed into an aimless wander down Paddington’s myriad quaint lanes. The intention was not to go gallery hopping or to invest in the next piece for our (humble) art collection, but my husband and I could not have been more thrilled about where fate led us that day: Wagner Contemporary.
Even before entering, it was apparent that this gallery was something special. The slate blue exterior and bright orange logo lettering (a complementary color combination that neither of us can resist) drew us in and up the stairs to a light-filled oasis. A clean palette of white walls, generous natural light, and bleached wood floors, the art all but bounced off the walls, begging for us to look closer.
We were immediately offered a warm greeting by director Nadine Wagner, who explained the gorgeous paintings on display were that of artist Kerry McInnis, whose opening followed the next week. Our timing was certainly on point, as we were able to peruse these stunning landscape paintings at our leisure, soaking in the bold expressive brush strokes, vibrant colors, and rich layered textures. Within minutes, we wanted to buy the whole lot.
Nadine then let us view their current inventory in the extensive stockroom. Donning protective white gloves, we sifted through a number of fine works before I settled on my favorite. We all laughed when we realized the artist responsible was, yet again, McInnis. Clearly I was inherently drawn to her work. I knew I had to learn more, so at the official opening reception the following weekend, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the artist herself to understand a bit more about what gets her brushes moving.
Here are a few of her works on display at Wagner Contemporary now through May 24th. Don’t miss it.
An Interview with the Artist:
EW: How long, typically, does one piece take?
KM: (Laughing) I like to say that it takes 60 years. Because I have been doing this for so long, it is getting quicker.
EW: Do you work inside a studio, en plen air, or both?
KM: Both. I have a studio where I usually work on up to three oils at a time, since oils take longer to dry, and you can get that density and saturation. I refer to sketches and photos that I have taken outside. I also paint in the field, usually acrylic on paper, since it dries fast. Outside, I typically do one at a time, since it’s a quicker process. Whisker’s Creek is a favorite place to paint.
EW: How long does a piece usually take?
KM: Anywhere from two weeks to six months. And I know you’re doing to ask me when I know it’s done. Sometimes the process is so angst ridden that I just know when it’s done. When it’s done, it’s done. And then there is the blitzing.
EW: Explain “blitzing.”
KM: (Walking over to a painting to demonstrate…) Sometimes I get to a point where the painting feels too tight, too predictable and contrived, so I attack it. I put on my hip hop playlist and just go for it, throwing pigment at it and using various tools and scrapers, for instance a pot scrubber, to achieve the texture and interest that I am after.
See her blitzing in action here.
A few more favorites:
McInnis has a Masters in Art Conservation, holds double bachelors degrees in Art and French, and has studied at Sorbonne University in Paris. She has held over 12 solo exhibitions, has over 64 awards, and her art is displayed in a multitude of collections both in Australia and overseas. It is hard to believe someone who holds so many accolades has such a generous, approachable personality. Her colorful demeanor exudes vivacity, excitement, and passion so perfectly reflected in her art.
Do not miss her exhibit on now at Wagner Contemporary.* Thank you, Nadine Wagner, for your welcoming introduction and Kerry McInnis for the generous time taken for the interview. Your excitement for and dedication to art is inspiring and contagious!
*You can stay up to date on all exhibitions by following @wagnercontemporary on Instagram!