Robert Armstrong: Blimp on the Horizon

2 - 25 April 2009

A public conversation between the artist and the critic Aidan Dunne will take place in the gallery Wednesday 8 April, 6.30pm sharp.

The In Conversation series is organised by Elaine Byrne

The floor, benches and tables in Robert Armstrong’s studio are stacked with books. One on Giotto, who lived between 1267 and 1337, carries the sub-title The Renewal of Painting. Most are about the usual suspects of early Renaissance Italian painting; a chunky volume on Sienese Painting, Pope-Hennessy on Piero della Francesca, Aldous Huxley’s Best Picture, ransacked collections of Fra Angelico. The books are stuffed with torn slips, Google images, Post-its and paper windows that mask details and fragments. From San Marco there’s a resurrection cloud. An oil refinery burns off gas, the ‘grace’ of the stigmata arrives, Saint Francis departs. A comet, Tuscan hilltops, telecommunication towers, the N11.
The scuffed books, the scraps of newspaper and the internet search histories are linked in some way to the paintings that line the walls, yet distinct from them: a psychological profile, standalone evidence of what looks like indiscriminate enquiry.

The paintings themselves bear forensic examination. The surfaces range from the velvety smooth to the brutally battered. A towel, originally used for cleaning up, is presented for examination. Skin is scored, abraded and patched-up. Brushes have been used to spread and to soften, to reveal. Marks have been left by unknown instruments – soft, sharp or blunt. Attempts have been made to mislead and cover up.

Sassetta was here. Lorenzetti’s Effects of Good Government in the Town and Countryside is not here. Mining in Barentsberg is here. Nietzsche’s mountaintops. Squat buildings. Blimps on the horizon.

Robert Armstrong is a founder member of Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin. In 2002 he became the head of painting at the National College of Art & Design, where he has lectured since 1991. Born 1953 in Gorey, Co. Wexford, he lives and works in Dublin.

Recent exhibitions include: Look Again: Recent Art from Ireland, selected by Aidan Dunne, Purdy Hicks, London, 2009; Winter Salon, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, 2008; Afterimages, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin, 2007(solo); Fenton Gallery, Cork, 2007 (solo); The Big Store, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, 2007; A Moment In Time, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, 2006.