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Gesture as An Object: Art by Kiki McGrath

A painting using cool green and purple tonesSeika, acrylic on canvas

Mixed-media artist and painter Kiki McGrath creates colorful works with a focus on gesture as an object. In many of Kiki’s most recent works, swirling, tangled lines of paint take on the role of a central figure, blending with backgrounds both analogous and contrastive.

A painting with gestural strokes of deep greenWaterfall, acrylic on canvas


I appreciate the way Kiki is using her current practice to explore the material of paint – not just what paint can help depict, but how paint itself behaves when applied to a canvas. In the series Aerial Roots, Kiki titles her works with reference to land masses and natural formations, leading the viewer to read more into her color choices (lush greens accented with deeper tones of blue and purple), while at the same time examining the power of a single painted gesture to suggest a recognizable form.

A screen capture of Kiki McGrath's art websiteThe front page of Kiki's art portfolio website


Kiki’s recent works remind me a bit of paintings by Josh Smith, where the artist focuses on the painted lines of letterforms, abstracting them past recognition. Kiki takes this a step further in Helicon, where she explores differences and relationships between types of lines.

An abstract painting with warm hues of pink and redMidwinter Spring, acrylic on canvas

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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