Image: A crushed flower pressed into a hot sidewalk
Megan Rooney, Untitled (from the series 'Old Baggy Root'), 2021. Photo: Eva Herzog. © Megan Rooney.
Featured in Twin

A crushed flower pressed into a hot sidewalk Megan Rooney

27 October 2022

By Isabelle Bucklow

Mural comes from the French ‘mur’ for wall. For artist Megan Rooney a wall is not a dead dumb surface, rather she is attentive to their inexhaustible hum; the liveliness of walls. Her art is deeply enmeshed with place, where colour and gesture fuse into site and surface. These surfaces, often vast canvases or walls, both taunt and yield to Rooney’s interrogative mark-making. Rooney works between performance, painting and architecture, disciplines that converge in the method and form of the mural. Rooney’s murals murmur and throb, hot with colour and memory. The Canadian artist has been based in Europe for most of her career, garnering solo shows at Salzburger Kunstverein, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and SALTS in Kassel, as well inclusion in the Lyon Biennial and group show at the Palais de Tokyo. We spoke with Megan about her most recent work, about dreaming in blue and being a greedy painter.

Isabelle Bucklow:

Your piece With Sun is on display at Fugues in Colour at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. In this stretching mural, a breathless knot of marks skitter and dance across the surface. I say, across, but the colours almost seem to melt into, or even burn into the surface. The whole wall emanates and vibrates with heat. 

Megan Rooney:

I started working on With Sun in the early spring — my plan was to finish in roughly four weeks... needless to say Gehry’s architecture fought me a lot harder than I had anticipated. I think of my murals as an informal collaboration between my body, the architecture and the cherry picker I work on. The machine becomes like an appendage of my body and I mentally fuse myself to it — as I move and fly through the space.

The architecture in gallery eight is radical — every time the walls meet, they change shape, size and direction. Some of the walls had an imperceptible volume to them - when standing at the bottom, one was completely unaware that actually the wall had a very large belly a third of the way up which protruded outward when yellow paint charged across its front.

In the centre of this room is a colossal aperture in the ceiling which lets the natural elements enter the space. The light changed dramatically depending on the time of day. At the beginning of the process I spend a lot of time in the space — finding pathways with my body and starting to understand the particulars of the walls, how it breathes. When I was laying on the floor of the gallery I started to dream of a little myth. The moon chased the sun through the building, it dropped down the open hole in the ceiling and got trapped bouncing around. With this mind I launched myself with as much momentum as I could muster, while the painting fixed a position on the walls. It’s a bit like flying — if you don’t hurl yourself down the runway the painting will never fly. But in any case, the walls always rebel and fight back.

Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image