Anna Mcneil’s practice is based upon narrative ambiguity. She is interested in reflecting how our perception and our memories are dynamic, and constantly manipulated by contemporary perspectives. Mcneil was included in the 2017 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize Exhibition.
A: Your paintings explore the limits between abstraction and representation to investigate how we form perceptions. Why do you think representational painting is still relevant in the 21st century?
AM: I think that now, in the 21st century, boundaries have been pushed aside and artists are able to use not only any tools or combinations of materials that they like, but also to create work that communicates through abstraction or representation or indeed both. For me, using these terms refers to two different perspectives of how a work can be read.
A: How far do you think your paintings explore identity through intimate perspectives?
AM: My paintings focus on relationships. I am interested in group dynamics, intimate connections and the idea of experiencing something or somewhere alone. One’s identity is essentially formed of a mixture of these three dynamics and the memory of our experience in relation to them, so in this way my paintings are also exploring ideas about identity.
A: How far do you think that abstraction is a key tool for artists in achieving new points of view, or uncovering new meanings in their work?
AM: For me, the role of abstraction in my work is to allow a more direct communication of a sensation. Abstraction can be used as a tool for artists to communicate on another level, without provoking the analytical reading that representation suggests.
A: How far do you think that the representational method inherently leads to a sense of the personal, with contextual memory ingrained into the shapes colours and materials used?
AM: The choice of a representational subject is based on a personal symbolism that surely must contain a sense of subjective content from the experience of the artist. Therefore, undoubtedly, I feel that a sense of the personal is carried across in this method of painting. As the reading of these types of works are culturally and historically specific, then the viewer will have a different sense and understanding depending on when and where they are seeing the painting.
A: you exhibited at LPS prize in 2017. How important do you think are these prizes are to artists and how did it help your practice?
AM: It is an honour to be selected and exhibited at a prestigious prize such as the Lynn Painter Stainer’s Prize. Open calls such as this provide a fantastic opportunity for artists to show their work to new audiences. Also, it is a way to expand the dialogue surrounding one’s practice, by the painting being exhibited alongside the work of other artists and in a new context.
A: what are your plans for the rest of the year?
AM: This year I will be working between my studio near London and Barcelona. I have recently finished a year on Turps painting programme in London and I am currently working in a new series of work. I have a couple of collective exhibitions coming up in Barcelona, in December and April. After having had a really successful time at the Other Art fair at the Old Truman Brewery in October, I am hoping to do it again in London in the Spring.
The 2018 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize closes for entries on 6 December. For more information: www.lynnpainterstainersprize.org.uk
1. Anna McNeil, V (2015).