Our next Artist You Need To Know is Robert McNealy. He was born in Twins Falls, Idaho, USA in 1942, but lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia. He earned a BFA from Idaho State University (1968) and relocated to Toronto in 1972. He graduated from York University with an MFA in 1985.  McNealy has taught at a number of institutions: Emily Carr University, York University, the Banff Centre and Capilano University. He has exhibited his work – and staged performances as part of his practice – in Canada, the United States and Europe.

From a catalogue of the exhibition Four Painters, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which took place in 1979, McNealy offered the following about his work:

Art is a system                                      In its time
where the process it is in                    In its place
reflects how whole systems work      As it is



McNealy, who is best known as a creator of mixed-media installations and public art (including the work At Rest), is an accomplished painter, incorporating both naturalistic styles, more expressionist mark making to an almost minimalist pointillism. Influenced by the Fauves, McNealy often employs thick black outlines and rich earth tones contrasted with intense whites, blues and pinks.



He is perhaps best known for his Skullduggery series, which is a ‘painting installation rooted in paleo-archaeology and physical anthropology. The works consist of an installation of many small paintings of skulls taken from the human fossil record painted on wadded pages of art magazines. The skulls trace the range of human evolution, and the magazine pages, a record of art practices. Together they express the fragility of ourselves as a species and the punctuality of art movements. The installation presents a periodic story of our species painted on periodicals.’ (from grunt gallery) There is an enjoyable video of an iteration of this body of work here.



McNealy’s work can be found in the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, ON), Canada Council Art Bank, (Ottawa, ON), Jan Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, The Netherlands), Municipal Van Reekumgallery of Modern Art (Apeldoorn, The Netherlands), York University (Toronto, ON), Princeton University Museum of Fine Art (Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A.), Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver, BC), and numerous private collections in Canada, the United States and Europe. He has also been awarded many grants from the Ontario Arts Council, Arts Council of British Columbia and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Notable exhibitions have been mounted at Bau-Xi Gallery, Confederation Centre for the Arts (PEI), Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge, AB), Mercer Union (Toronto, ON), Western Front (Vancouver, BC), grunt gallery (Vancouver, BC), YYZ (Toronto, ON) and A Space Gallery (Toronto, ON). A more extensive list of his exhibitions and achievements can be seen here.



More of Robert McNealy’s work can be enjoyed here.