In late 2016, I was introduced to painter Keith McSherry by the established Cumbrian artist Gillian Naylor, whose paintings, and opinions concerning painting and painters, I admire and value. Soon after, Keith purchased a stunning vintage oil painting from The Shining Tree attributed to a Staithes School artist. I knew I would miss the painting a great deal, although it was a real pleasure to sell it to someone with a great enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, art. When I visited Keith‘s home and studio in Cockermouth, I genuinely felt that his Cumbrian landscape paintings were the most powerful and exciting body of work that I had seen for several years.
Nature and culture are companions in Keith‘s paintings. He cites the biggest influence on his work as being a collection of art encyclopaedias and prints by The Impressionists, Picasso etc. belonging to his late father. Further, while he has been painting what he sees around him, portraits, still life subjects, industrial and rural landscapes, since his early twenties, there is also an energetic graphic element and strength of colour in his paintings, perhaps influenced by the cult comics he enjoyed growing up in the 1970s.
Today, he paints in oils from sketch books and has a keen eye for direct observation as well as a good technical understanding of, for example, how paint behaves on the canvas. His current paintings are focused on the landscape with a metaphorical interest in, say, a lone tree, a winding road, a solitary building. This oil on canvas, River Cocker 2016 (now reserved), is a painterly and graphic sensation. A mirror of the moody sky, the fast flowing river is centre stage, tumbling past the former youth hostel with its beach and rocks. The former youth hostel, green field, river bank and trees serve as more than framing the river, rather, they are brought to attention by the use of vibrant, popping colour and graphic characteristics. In its entirety, the energy of the brushwork and, therefore, the artist, leaves as much a strong impression as the landscape itself. As it happens, here is an artist who spends time outdoors, walking, cycling and kayaking.
I am delighted that Keith McSherry will be having his first solo exhibition of his paintings at The Shining Tree in 2018. Dates to be announced.