This exhibition marks a new direction in Mark O’Kelly’s practice, these works on paper offer original insight into O’Kelly’s conceptual practice as an artist. The show includes a trilogy of installed vitrine pieces, providing context for his extensive process of assimilation and deconstruction of printed material; including source, written and drawn archives.
In this work, O’Kelly describes a research process that posits the importance of artistic action over the myth of the construction of a definitive image of contemporary culture. Through the presentation of cuts and slices of mediated imagery, his practice demonstrates the abundance of inherently editorial content ubiquitous in an image saturated and conscious society. Focusing exclusively on human form, O’Kelly presents bodies, poses and relationships that appear wholly recognizable while remaining equally enigmatic and ephemeral.
O’Kelly’s subject in question becomes one of how the individual consumes, relates to, and is defined by their relationship to the human form of others. In provoking the viewer’s reaction to choices of form and space and employing codified motifs of gendered, racial and socio-economic weight, the show investigates the proposition of media space as an appropriate location for public discourse. This emptying out of over determined content and style provides a pared back glimpse of the construction of the mediated visual dialogues which have dominated popular discourse since the invention of photography.
Through his extensive denuding of his printed source material, O’Kelly constructs a collection of visual epigrams which enunciate the pleasures of form, content and interpretation. In a collection which uses acts of painted gesture and inflection to execute rhyming figurative ideograms, the constituent parts of each work can both stand-in, and contribute to, the wider narrative project.
The presentation of elements of Mark O’Kelly’s archive continues a contextualization of his research, previously installed at the Limerick City Gallery of Art (2005)* and at The Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece(2008)**, through printed reproduction in the Printed Project Issue No.5 (ed. Alan Phelan, 2005) and Selective Knowledge, The Institute for Contemporary Art and Thought, Athens, Greece (ed. Els Hanappe, 2008).
* Caged Archive, in collaboration with Sarah Pierce 2005, curated by Mike Fitzpatrick.
** Selective Knowledge, curated by Els Hanappe 2008