Shelagh Keeley

Shelagh Keeley: Notes on Obsolescence

The Power Plant is pleased to present a commissioned project by Toronto-based artist Shelagh Keeley.


The Power Plant is pleased to present a commissioned project by Toronto-based artist Shelagh Keeley.

In the late 1970s, Keeley began employing drawing as both a response to and exploration of Conceptual Art where the gesture of her hand and physicality of her body were integral to her mark making. As such, Keeley’s work involves a high degree of physical effort where the concrete resistance of the wall is juxtaposed with the fluidity of her hand and the extensions of her body. By working with the limits of the wall and the constraints of its architecture, Keeley defines a confined space within which she works within. These boundaries provide the artist with a counterpoint to the openness and improvisation of her physical action. More, the architecture coupled with her movement allows Keeley to re-think the space of her installation in relation to her body. Each of her wall drawings are created in situ, marking a moment in space and time when the work—a visual document of her movement—is created.

For her installation at The Power Plant, Keeley will create a new wall drawing that will envelop the clerestory walls. Her drawings on these grand canvases are the remnants of her corporeal action and articulate the moment and gestures of her body. Keeley’s drawings act as performative objects. They emerge from choreographed gestures as they relate to the limits and conditions of a bound space.

Shelagh Keeley (born in Oakville, ON) lives and works in Toronto after living twenty-two years in New York City and Paris. Keeley’s recent projects have been presented by MoMA Library and Archives, New York (2015); Vancouver Art Gallery (2015); The Power Plant, Toronto (2014); Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2015) and Ryerson Image Center, Toronto (2013). Keeley has also been part of a large number of international group shows including: The Unfinished Conversation: Encoding/Decoding at The Power Plant, Toronto (2015); In Order to Join – The Political in a Historical Moment at Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany (2013) and Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, India (2015). In 2013 Keeley created a collaborative book project with refugee children entitled Desire to Join and published by Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany (2013). Her work is included in public collections including MoMA, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Les Musées de la Ville de Paris; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

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