Paintings…the third show by Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh this year (after solo exhibitions in the Galway and Wexford Arts Centres), builds on an artistic practice as profound as it is prolific. Ní Mhaonaigh 2004 show Deoraíocht was loosely based on Padáic Ó Conaire’s ‘Scothscealtha’, in that it explored the spaces depicted in the stories, specifically spaces of exile, but since that time her most constant reference has been to her own work. So impressive is this body of work that, despite the fact she is only thirty-one years old, both her 2006 show Eatramh and her 2008 show Platform referenced paintings from her previous shows. This is not to say that her work has not evolved, but rather that she has remained true to the concerns notable since the beginning of her career – the exploration of luminal spaces, whether in space or time; the tensions between a spare, pared-down aesthetic and a love of often lush colour; and the exploration of painting as a philosophical and performative endeavour.
The tensions and even imbalances between the graphic and richly coloured areas of the works have a strong emotive charge that lends the spaces and voids a metaphorical dimension. The fact that the forms in her work can evoke vessels that resemble ancient curraghs or modernist architectural designs, suggests a celebration of multiple forms of abstraction which can reference history or look forward but are always current.
Irish Arts Review | Summer 2009