Kevin Kavanagh is proud to present How The Oyster Makes The Pearl, a solo show by Sonia Shiel. Sonia Shiel’s interdisciplinary practice combines key methodologies from art, law and theatre to imbue characteristics, autonomy and personal narratives in the inanimate objects and painted works that she creates. Playfully usurping the normal conditions of an artwork with a kind of self-conscious agency usually reserved for living things, her works are often free-standing or traversable; presented with their own volition, backstory, or environment; and sometimes consolidated within installations, audio works, performance or video. Shiel’s collection of paintings for How The Oyster Makes The Pearl presents the world translucently in a careful matrix of tone, opacity and colour. While framed, stuffed or folded like things we intend to keep safe and admire forever, Shiel’s flat vanishing spaces are already evanescing. They reveal the shape-shifting dimensions of a sentient landscape, in which reflections abandon their hosts, horizons untether themselves from their axis, gestural marks pose willfully and light plays tricks before disappearing.
Kevin Kavanagh is pleased to present MICHAEL
COLEMANS STILL LIFE, an exhibition of paintings which opens Thursday 14th of
March. We are delighted to be working with Michael again for the
first time since his solo exhibition in 1997 at the Jo Rain Gallery in Temple
Bar. Born in 1951, Michael had his first one man show at the Oliver Dowling
Gallery in 1977. In the same year he was awarded the Carroll’s Open prize at
The Irish Exhibition of Living Art. 1979 saw him win the first prize for
painting at EV+A and in 1980 was awarded the same prize for a second time.
Following these successes he moved to Vienna where he lived for some years,
returning to Ireland in 1989. In 1991 he Featured in ‘Irish Art of the
Eighties’ a survey exhibition at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College
Dublin. Two major solo shows in the 90’s include his Hoeys Court Paintings at
the RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin in 1994 and his ‘Temple Bar Painting’
Installation at the Hunt Museum, Limerick, 1998. He has presented solo
exhibitions at the Green on Red gallery 1998 and 2000 and the Cross Gallery,
2004, 2006 and 2012. His work is represented in public and private
collections in Ireland and abroad. He lives and works in Dublin.
“There is an attractive openness about Michael Coleman’s paintings that involve building up in layers: painting out: painting over: experimenting, faltering, adjusting, recovering, redefining, triumphing. Always toying with failure, always nudging ideas towards the outer imaginative reaches. He bears witness to the nature of experience and memory, while simultaneously transmuting them into art” – Dennis Driscoll
“If I am forced to associate, I think of my pictures as explosive landscapes, worlds, and distances held on a flat surface”.
– Helen Frankenthaler
In his new paintings Robert Armstrong delights in the dripping, slipping, scraping, melding, oozing, brushing, and drying of oil paint on a heavily gessoed linen ground. The squeegee ravages the surface, clearing, and altering the physical ground as well as shaping the image itself. The results present ‘paintscape’ images of their own making and they connect to natural and man-made processes in landscape. The world depicted seems poised in a state of flux, suggesting the natural cycle of change, yet witness also to the interference of humanity.
Born in Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland, in 1953, Robert Armstrong lives and works in Dublin, and is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, also in Dublin. He is a Founder Member of Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin and was Head of Painting at the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) from 2002 until his retirement in 2018, having taught at the college since 1991. He has exhibited regularly in Ireland and abroad for more than forty years. His work is included in many private and public collections and has been the subject of essays by writers including Aidan Dunne, Declan Long and Colm Tóibín.
Cecilia Danell (b.1985) is a Swedish-born, Galway-based artist. Her current body of work is based on winter walks in the area surrounding her family farm in Sweden, where the experience of being in the landscape influences the paintings beyond the photographic source material. She walks and traces an environment that she knows intimately, happening upon decaying remnants of human activity, further upending the romantic notion of nature as untended wilderness. Foregoing the picturesque for the partial and askew, there is an appearance of melting of the landscape, suggesting an existential undoing, as well as an ongoing exploration into the possibilities of the medium of paint.
Recent exhibitions include: ‘Futures Series 3 Episode 2’ RHA, Dublin (2018), ‘Island Life’, Kevin Kavanagh (2018), BEEP Painting Biennial, Swansea, UK (2018),
‘The Last Wilderness’ (solo) at Galway Arts Centre (2017) and The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon (2017). She was a 2017 recipient of the Arts Council Next Generation Award and has previously received Arts Council Bursary and Project Awards, the 2011 Wexford Arts Centre Emerging Artist Award and a 2016 residency award at the Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale, Norway funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture.
Alice Maher is one of Ireland’s most established and influential artists and yet despite the long familiarity of her work she hasn’t lost the ability to surprise and unsettle. Her art is always mutating, fresh and dynamic. This new installation, Vox Materia, continues her sustained interrogation into the aesthetic potential of hybrid forms. Maher claims that her work is “not declamatory” but instead driven by a desire to “extend figuration into other realms” and offer a haptic as well as visual poetics of form. It includes a series of hand-made sculptural forms and largescale prints on paper. In common with a lot of her well-known work Maher began with a figure drawn from mythology and folklore. In this case it was a 12th century carving of a Mermaid from the neighbouring Kilcooly Abbey.
Maher describes the mermaid as a “hybrid creature that transgresses boundaries between human and animal” making it an exemplary figure for embodying many of the themes and motifs that frequently appear throughout her rich and exquisite oeuvre. As a site for projecting both human desire and fear the mermaid offers the promise that the body can become reconsidered and reconstituted through relationships with unfamiliar forms. It also serves as a powerful political and ethical metaphor for the general ways in which identities can be subsumed. In particular it refers to the contemporary conditions of female identity and the possibilities offered the female voice. It also reminds us that erotics and aesthetics are often inseparable.
Above is an excerpt from a text by Francis Halsall for Irish Arts Review
There is a song on “repeat play” in the studio. It is late. I am wallowing in my thoughts, my focus drifting between the music and my own ideas, surrounded by paintings.
“…all alone and lost…”
I am there, very much alone and must somehow use this time, make it count.
“O the day we met I went astray …”
I should be somewhere else, helping someone else. Nothing here could be as important as that.
“…and now I’m lost, too late to pray…”
I have made five paintings. I made them with my thoughts, my obsessions and my anxieties. I let myself make this work. Lost in thoughts. What I have lost.
“Take my advice or you’ll curse the day, you started rolling down that Lost Highway.”
I tried to allow anything into the paintings – from the big questions to the incidental, the accidental. I made this work with revisions and editing, with experience and knowledge because I had to, I cannot “unlearn” who I have become. I am older now.
“Take my advice or you’ll curse the day you started rollin’ down that Lost Highway.”
I made these paintings while thinking about the future. I am a father now. I made them while thinking about my past. I am a son, still. Probably everyone is on that Highway or, at least feels it occasionally. Maybe he was lonely but he sure wasn’t alone. His was no VIP club. It is late and time to go home.
“… just another guy on the Lost Highway.”
In As it Goes, interiors and exteriors merge, voids and forms are interchangeable and within the pictorial plane, perceptual slippages occur. Spatial boundaries assert and digress continually, creating an assemblage of fragmentary gestures that affirm a cohesive whole. These paintings celebrate dream logic and the capacity of images to describe the subconscious, intangible and metaphysical experience.
Within his practice, Scullion endeavors to make a painting without deciding what the completion of that painting might entail or how the final image will announce itself. Instead he allows the paintings to settle for periods of time after working on them, acknowledging specific chance elements that have come to exist within the paintings, independent of his own intentionality. His deferential attitude toward the use of paint as a medium allows each work to develop its own character, with flourishes, nuances and details that are particular to each composition, affording them a certain capriciousness. They are believable and convincing whilst being simultaneously nonsensical, in this way they retain their humour and lightness. Scullion is interested in the idea of nonsense, how we order truth and illusion, and the visual criteria for both. He is interested in the creation of images with such verisimilitude as to produce a trompe l’oeil. Scullion’s paintings are willfully disorientating and incorporate fictional architecture and landscape. There are aspects of the image that we trust, but simultaneously know to be illogical.
All photographic works, Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285gsm Prints framed and made using Ultra Chrome HDR pigment inks and UV protective spray.
6th -29th September, 2018
Why do nation-states desire walls? What do walls promise to secure, protect, contain or keep at bay? These are questions Elaine Byrne interrogates in her new work, borderline.
As nations are building fortified boundaries at an accelerating rate, Byrne uses photography and sculpture to examine the anxieties of sovereign impotence such “walling” betrays. Her work layers impossible perspectives and excavates the motivations for constructing these barriers. Traversing boundaries from Tijuana, Mexico to Melilla in Spain, Byrne reflects that, on the surface, these walls vary in what they aim to deter –workers or asylum seekers; drugs, weapons, terror; ethnic or religious mixing—yet there are common dimensions to their proliferation at this moment in world history.
Often, the true purpose for constructing fortified barriers is not one of national security but economics. Each of the new boundary can be seen to issue from certain pressures on states exerted by globalisation, where a globalised world harbors fundamental tensions between opening and enclosing. These tensions materialise a contradiction between increasingly liberalised borders on the one hand, and the devotion of unprecedented funds and energies to border fortification on the other.
Apart from what they purport to ‘do,’ border walls respond to the effect of declining sovereignty and in part to fantasies and anxieties by generating a national imaginary. Plumbing the visual and psychic dimensions of these forms, borderline examines how the spectacle of a wall gratifies a wish for sovereignty to be restored to the people and the state.
Byrne’s artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She has presented work at Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia; Slought Foundation, Philadelphia; Elizabeth Foundation, New York; ISCP, New York; Montoro12 gallery, Rome; Limerick City Gallery, UAM, Mexico amongst others. She was awarded the RHA Curtin O’Donoghue Emerging Artist Photography prize and was winner of 8th Arte Laguna Venice sculpture prize (2014) and the TINA prize (2015). She was awarded a studio at ISCP in NY as part of their ground floor program. Her work is in permanent collections including: the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Rosenbach Museum and Library, Pennsylvania; Office of Public Works and The Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland. She has an MA in Visual Arts Practices from IADT, Dublin and was a 2014-2015 Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program.
Diana Copperwhite and Aileen Murphy
August 9th – September 1st, 2018
Opening reception Thursday August 9th
Bounty comprises recent work by Diana Copperwhite and Aileen Murphy. The impetus to show the work side by side has arisen from the mutual admiration and affinities that exist between the two artists in their subject matter and their handling of the medium of paint.
Both Copperwhite and Murphy create works that incorporate aspects of abstraction and figuration and both painters are fully taken up with the act of painting and the materiality of paint. There are also similarities in their approach and while the paintings often appear intuitive and whimsical, they evolve through layers of assertion and contradiction. Their scale and the movement within these works demonstrate a spontaneous and frenetic pace of activity that is further heightened by their relation to each other in the space.
Summer Group Exhibition 2018
5th – 28th July
Opening Reception Thursday 5th July at 6pm
Sonia Shiel, Kathy Tynan, Marcel Vidal, Mark Swords, Salvatore of Lucan, Joe Scullion, Robert Armstrong, Julia Dubsky, Lesley-Ann O’Connell, Pat Byrne, Stephen Loughman, Cecilia Danell, William O’Neill and Stephanie Deady
Island Life comprises work by artists who are making and showing paintings at the moment. It is intended as a celebration of where painting is at now in Ireland, with a mixture of emerging and more established artists.
Painting exists in an increasingly sophisticated visual world that sometimes seems to have a diminishing interest in the possibilities of paint. Island Life is concerned with the idea that, within the medium of paint there are opportunities for the individual to question the situation we live in and the resources we share. The paintings in this exhibition address the human condition and each of the artists suggests the capacity of the medium of paint to encompass both personal and universal concerns.
Kilkenny Festival Portraits 2015-17
7th – 30th June, 2018
From 2015 -17 Mick O’Dea was visual artist-in-residence at Kilkenny Arts Festival. For this unique three-year project he painted daily oil portraits of leading Irish and international artists, performers, actors, musicians and writers taking part in the Festival, while also documenting performances with action sketches. An audience joined Mick in the studio each day to observe and participate, discussing the work in progress with the artist and his sitters.
-Eugene Downes, Director of Kilkenny Arts Festival
This series of portraits began as part of a project with the Kilkenny Arts Festival and continued to grow as a series of collaborative events between the artist, the subject and the audience. Over the course of the festival Mick O’Dea painted the portraits of numerous public figures associated with the festival including poets Paula Meehan and Paul Muldoon, musicians Denis Cahill and Martin Hayes, seán nós dancer Colin Dunne and actors Simon Callow and Marie Mullen. The psychiatrist Ivor Browne also sat for O’Dea and can be seen in the above image taking a break from the intense sittings, which often lasted up to seven hours. Artist, Richard Gorman who attended as an audience member noted comically, that contradictory to the adage, it was most interesting to watch paint dry! Thus highlighting a curiosity about O’Dea’s painting process as well as the dynamic between the artist, the sitter and those who have come to watch.
In the creation of a portrait painting, a durational dialogue that incorporates both conversation and body language arises between the artist and the sitter. The audience bears witness to the subtleties and nuances that occur in the process of capturing the details that make a convincing portrait – an intensity of eyes, the clasping of hands and the crossing of ankles. Each sitter’s pose differing in myriad ways. O’Dea has long described the process of portrait painting as a reciprocal one that requires a mutual understanding and a certain level of trust where each sees eye to eye – very much in a literal sense, but this dynamic is broadened by the presence of an audience, many of whom are aware of the character of those being painted through their creative output. The process evolves organically as gestures and flourishes appear on the canvas and the audience glimpse aspects of the artist’s methods.
During the first two years the sittings took place in the James Stephens Military Barracks and in the final year of the residency they took place in the only remaining Home Rule Club in the country. Throughout Kilkenny Festival Portraits, O’Dea makes reference to the history of portrait painting and its role as a social signifier to display wealth and prestige. Ireland is a country, which significantly does not have a history of patronage in the same way that other European countries do. O’Dea subtly alludes to this by celebrating the countries literary figures and poets, in a gesture that suggests that the traditions of literature, music and art in this country have a unique history and legacy that is upheld by those depicted in these vibrant portraits.
Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh
April 26th – May 26th 2018
We again observe the complete preoccupation with paint itself, with the simple play of colours against one another. Many of the recent paintings pulled out from stacks that afternoon in Bray seemed to follow this logic, canvases filled to bursting with dragged daubs of complementary colours: swampy greens and starchy whites, mauves and greys. Within these busy spaces, something like a pattern emerges, aided along by the imperfect repetition of brush strokes — the natural drag of the hand, perhaps, or the physical impact of brush against the canvas skin. Typically, this patterned plane sits within another, bounded in by the sharp border of a second limit point. A border within a border, then, again bringing our attention of the weird leaps of fancy made possible by colour and line. Even within this doubly negated space, space and time appear to happen as though by accident. The eye tracks a line from colour to line, generating a weird rhythm that is something very close to a second kind of, painterly, sight. Incidences like these mean I am constantly surprised when I look and think about painting. Not by the technical skill required to paint, exactly, but the way that skill is communicated through paint. Often, this process — something like the way water tenses with cold, becoming ice — remains indistinct: we are only left to say, this is a good painting, or such and such paints well. Perhaps, then, when we describe someone as a painter’s painter it is exactly this mystery that is being brought centre stage. The point at which paint itself assumes something like autonomy, becoming a conduit for skill. And, when I look at and think about Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s paintings, I have to remind myself of this point: while painting might be a preoccupation of mine, her works prompt me to accept the limits of my own understanding. And probably to fasten me still further to paint’.
Extracted from an essay titled, A Painter’s Painter by Rebecca O’Dwyer
Vanessa Donoso López
I shall change the way things are ordered
March 22nd – April 21st, 2018
Opening reception Thursday March 22nd at 6pm.
‘Initially transcribed in Sumerian on 12 clay tablets, the material link between Gilgamesh and its birthing substance is further compounded in this exhibition. It is also fitting that this most pliable of mediums is paired with a piece of fictive narrative that, having undergone countless translations, exists now as a series of conflicting versions. Donoso López’s interpretations are straightforwardly depictive. In both drawing and sculpture, the characters regard us with uniform expressions; we see Gilgamesh, known to be a cruel king, exert his authority with a brute physicality. We see Utnapishtim and his wife – depicted alongside the animals they ushered onto the ark – who Gilgamesh approaches in his search for the youth restoring flower. The flower itself is portrayed as a simple floral substance without reference to its potential magical attributes.
Concurrent with this literal quality, however, is a marked blend of textual interpretation and embodied experience, the substantive crux of the work being the clay retrieved from the three sites across Spain. Integral to how they function in the gallery is the extended movement through space their making entailed, a repeated transitioning across borders geographical and political. Now directly embodying these locations, the works are rich with incidental detail and haptic content, with close and recurring contact: the viewer’s experience, though primarily ocular, is tangibly charged with the artist’s travels, with each micro-instance of petrichor in the studio as the clay, upon being wettened to be mixed with ink, releases a rain-rich scent’.
-Extracted from On Clay and Transitional Spaces, an essay by Sue Rainsford. On Clay and Transitional Spaces was commissioned on the occasion of I shall change the way things are ordered.
Full text available here.
February 15th – March 16th 2018
‘Elysian Fields’ refers to an afterlife in Greek mythology, a place where the souls of gods and heroes as well as those associated with them would remain after death. Greece is a country dealing with mass displacement of people from war torn countries and though economically unstable, their contribution to aiding those who have crossed the Aegean Sea merited a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, dedicated to all Greek Islanders.
Within this exhibition, Paul McKinley considers modern conceptions of Greece as compared with its ancient history. His paintings feature aspects of Greek landscape; islands, mountains and cliff edges, often informed by compositions within art historical paintings. These landscapes are created from an amalgamation of various places and as such they are not one specific location, but rather an essence of place.
Within Elysian Fields, McKinley’s work charts the present-day representation of Greek landscape while the titles of the paintings subtly refer to parallels between heroes of ancient Greek mythology and the unwritten contemporary epic, fashioned from the plight of individuals in exile.