Text by Niall MacMonagle
Ní Mhaonaigh has always celebrated form and colour and she masters both in these recent works with characteristic energy and control. Here, in these oil on board paintings, Ní Mhaonaigh has taken her brush for a walk. The palette draws on her familiar, signature one: pale greys, darker greys and pinks predominate and her handling of the image, her luscious, sensuous fluidity and her control of those stylised intricate shapes is brilliant. These eleven works delight the eye. Though small in size, within each painting the textured dynamic is so exciting that the space never seems small or confined. In many of Ní Mhaonaigh's paintings brushwork "frames" or "borders" the image. Unusually, these new works are not "framed"; they open up, they go beyond their rectangular edges and allow the viewer the freedom to dream.
Based on her Dúil Series, Ní Mhaonaigh's solo exhibition at Limerick City Gallery of Art, these works explore how Dúil means both desire and element. Moya Cannon reminds us that 'the need to make something beautiful was central to our emergence as human beings. Our need for beauty is very old.' And this desire or need is clearly seen in Ní Mhaonaigh's delight in the making of these new paintings. And in the making of them she is in her element.
In his Notes d'un Peintre Matisse says 'What I dream of is an art of balance'. Ní Mhaonaigh's extraordinary exceptional eye and mind create a perfect balance. She is an artist who always knows what she's about and she also knows when to stop. When she does the paintings take off.