Stephanie Deady: Measure for Measure

3 - 26 November 2022

Text written by Aidan Dunne


Historically, in western painting, there is an art of drama and spectacle, and there is an art of quietness. The extrovert and the introvert. Stirring, dramatic events and moments of inner revelation. Stephanie Deady’s work is aligned with the latter, with interior life. As the art of painting developed in Europe, for a time spectacle seemed to gain the upper hand: with mannerism, the baroque and rococo, things got quite turbulent. But a more restrained mode of expression has always been there. It was especially evident among the painters of the early Renaissance, for example.


 In their work, one often finds that crucial moments and events, usually of biblical and religious significance, hinge on the implicit, intimate exchange of information between central figures. In Simone Martini’s golden, radiant, early 14th century Annunciation, made for Siena Cathedral, a stream of words spelled out in a straight line - Ave gratia plena dominos tecum (May the grace of god be with you) - occupies the yawning central space between the angel and the virgin, flanked by saints Margaret and Ansanus.


Previously, Stephanie Deady’s work has focused largely on spaces: domestic and functional interiors, with a strong feeling of habitation though few specifically figurative elements. These environments were charged with a degree of uncertainty, slightly unmoored, reflecting the inevitably fallible processes involved in vision, cognition and memory. Yet while the work was in some respects quite formally austere, there was consistently a resolute core of emotional warmth.


One starting point for her recent work was a photograph she took of some friends in conversation, enjoying an easy rapport. It is a casual image of a casual moment, and these very qualities drew her back to it again and again. In her paintings, which respond to and convey the tenor of just such a moment, there is something magical, perhaps even sacred, about the fortuitous confluence of individual energies and trajectories, momentarily pooled in effortless, communal harmony. The arrangement of masses and colour, the body language, the myriad lines of communication, seeing, talking, listening, sensing, all shape the flow of the compositions. An important point of reference in their making was the comparable harmony, in terms of objects and spaces, she saw in Morandi’s abstracted still lifes. Like Morandi, she is searching for, and finds, that paradoxical duality, a serene dynamism in the radiance of the everyday.