Rectangle, a written thing, 2017, is presented in four ensembles. These painted works conjure theatrical tropes without motion, containing performative moments within the stasis and composition of painting. Such poles of action and inaction, recurring throughout the installation, are echoed in an accompanying script. This written thing provides a space to situate the work in a critical context by exploring its own real and imagined materiality – and it tells the story of an artist who, in being mistaken for a tree, learns what it is to be expressive.
Sonia Shiel’s work examines her protagonists’ attempts to survive the odds of nature and the illusory world around them, through laws of their own making. Many of her works engage with each other symbiotically or con/sequentially within mixed-media installations, creating surreal narrative sequences. Often taking the form of scripted video, audio and live performances, Shiel’s works synthesise object, image and sound in self-reflexive stories of construction, exploring how real things in the world can simultaneously declare themselves fabrications and yet compel a shared make-believe.
Sonia Shiel is currently the Arts and Humanities’ Artist-in-Residence at UCD for 2017 and a recipient of the DLRCoCo and the Arts Council Visual Artist Awards for 2017. In 2014/2015, she completed the Art & Law Fellowship Program at Fordham Law School, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, in New York, and an artist’s residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, with Arts Council Project Award support. Recent readings and performances include Temple Bar Gallery and Studios and ArtBox. She has had recent exhibitions at Rua Red, The Crawford Gallery, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the ISCP, New York, among others. Shiel has been the recipient of the Tony O’Malley and Hennessy Craig Awards, having had solo exhibitions at the Butler Gallery and the RHA Gallery I and II, which included a major publication and a collection of essays. Her work features in many international public and private collections, including the Arts Council, The City of Frankfurt, and the OPW.