Noel McKenna

mother’s exhibitions:
Noel McKenna
To wink at the cat 
18 April – 15 June 2024

Noel McKenna 
The Moon is kinder than the Sun
5 March – 9 May 2020
mother’s tankstation London

Noel McKenna
Not too hot, not too cold

20 September – 28 October 2017

Noel McKenna
Concealing the Spot
27 May – 4 July 2015

Noel McKenna
19 November – 20 December 2008


Noel McKenna
Sleep my Horse ….. 5 August 1956
Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Maitland, New South Wales
18 November 2023 – 25 February 2024

Noel McKenna

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
18 November 2017 – 2 April 2018

Noel McKenna
Discoveries | Art Basel Hong Kong

Born Brisbane, 1956, lives and works in Sydney

Noel McKenna’s ‘unstudied’ looking, spare, almost nonchalant paintings are most frequently rendered with an apparently simple directness, onto small framed and glazed plywood panels (and occasionally ceramic tiles or larger, conventional canvases). McKenna’s long-term fascination with the most ordinary of daily details; domesticated animals, lost pet posters, vernacular construction techniques (Queenslander houses on stilts or suburban Melbourne for example), the number and location of public toilets or other municipal utilities and specifics, transform his work beyond any restriction of nostalgia or the confines of cultural specificity, towards a common and important reading of universal liminality. McKenna’s observational choices may come from the normal, the ordinary everyday – the “super-normal” as he describes it – but they come out the other side as extraordinary, metaphysical, unconcealed. His work simultaneously retains the sophistication and knowingness of the highly trained professional artist, yet inherently articulates the innocence, urgency and necessity of the self-taught. ­

Almost a national institution in his own right, McKenna has staged numerous solo exhibitions throughout Australia and New Zealand over the last 30 years and is regularly listed in the Australia Art Collector’s ‘50 Most Collectable Artists’. The Queensland Art Gallery and Museum of Modern Art opened, Landscape – Mapped, a solo presentation of Noel McKenna’s large-scale map paintings, in November 2017.McKenna’s fifth solo exhibition with mother’s tankstation, to wink at the cat, opened in our Dublin gallery in April 2024. Other recent solo exhibitions include: Sleep my horse……5 August 1956, Maitland Regional Art Gallery (2023),  Cats That I Have Known, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Centre, Long Island, and Noel Mckenna, Ten Cubed, Melbourne (both 2016). mother’s tankstation staged a solo presentation of McKenna’s work at Solos, Taipei Dangdai (2019) and Discoveries, Art Basel Hong Kong (2014). Notable recent group exhibitions include The Popular Pet Show, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (2016), Living Rooms, Musée du Louvre, Paris (2014); South of No North, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2013). McKenna’s entry for the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Prize (JADA), Hamlet (2019), was acquired for the Grafton Regional Gallery, New South Wales’ collection of contemporary drawing in 2020. McKenna has previously won the Sulman Prize in 1994, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales Trustees’ prize for watercolour five times, most recently in 2021, with his entry Tree, Headland (Ottoman Rose) (2021). In 2024, McKenna won the Darling Portrait Prize, a biennial national prize for Australian portrait painting, awarded by the National Portrait Gallery, for his painting William Nuttall with Horses in field (2023).


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