About Lisa McCleary


Lisa McCleary is an Irish-Australian artist who has returned to Ireland after a decade of living and working overseas in New York and Sydney. In 2018 she completed her MFA Degree at Parsons, The New School, NYC. McCleary has exhibited internationally with previous solo exhibitions in Sydney, Mexico, and New York City. Her art is currently on view at the Irish Consulate, New York City. In 2023, since her return to Ireland, McCleary has been selected to exhibit her work at the Royal Hibernian Academy’s 193rd Summer Annual, Dublin, Ireland, and the London Art Biennale, Kensington, London.

In 2022, McCleary exhibited her work at The Boynes Emerging Artist Awards, Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery, LA, Oscar Roman Gallery and Hotel Matilda, Mexico. McCleary has held a position at the Trestle Artist Residency, Brooklyn, the Art & Law Program, NYC, the Summer Painting Residency at the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and the Vermont Studio Residency for which she received the VSC Merit Grant.

McCleary’s work has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition as part of the Smithsonian Museum's National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. In 2020, McCleary was chosen as a finalist in the Boynes Emerging Artist Award and as an Artist to Watch by artconnect.com. In 2021, McCleary’s work was selected as Best in Show in Wet Paint, at Colors of Humanity Art Gallery, she also received a Highly Commended Award at International Art Show LA and a Special Merit Award at Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery. In 2020, McCleary was included in The UK Sunday Times article ‘30 under 30: Ireland’s most promising artists.’

Artist Statement

My work addresses mediated corporeality and is anchored by the embodiment of touch. My current series of work investigates the malleability of identity and the nature of the human spirit. I explore the intersection of vulnerability and resilience, materiality, absurdity, ambiguity, otherness and the tactile.

I utilize abstract figuration, focusing on physical aberrations and tactile manipulations of expression, to evoke highly ambivalent emotions and experiences. I employ a layered artistic process to create surrealist distortions and anthropomorphic beings. I begin by making clay sculptures which I then photograph and render in oil paint onto wooden panel. I utilize the Trompe L’oeil painting technique; I want to create the illusion of 3-dimensionality through the skilled use of form, colour and light. The paintings are 2-dimensional and place focus on the sensuality of the flat painted surface. The illusion of tactility creates a longing for the real and palpable.

My previous series captures imagery of the everyday in New York City to highlight the dystopian reality of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I focused on the screen as a surface of mediation, protection, isolation, safety, and fear. Together we acknowledge the courage of our essential workers during these unprecedented times, and their protection of and service to the community at large. I recognize the screen as a barrier and charged index that both separates and unites us. This physical boundary functions as a space from which to consider our privilege and reflect upon our position as human beings during these unprecedented times. It is a barrier that mediates the body and incites questions regarding human desire and fear: the inability to touch during a global health crisis and the longing to connect.