Crooked Orbit

Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, 1 June – 1 July 2017

Let me begin by confessing something: over the course of the last two years, I have interviewed Diana Copperwhite twice on camera. During those conversations, we barely touched upon the formalist ‘whats?’ of her paintings in an effort to avoid muddy dialogue. The filmed conversations were more centred around the general ‘whys?’ of painting and the painter, the nature and nurture of it all; painting as a verb rather than a noun. 

When I was asked to write a review of Copperwhite’s solo show, ‘Crooked Orbit’, at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery – which meant confronting the ‘whats?’ head on – I tossed and turned before accepting the invitation. What I discovered was that knowing the ‘whys?’ can colour your vision. But before we go there, first a description. (Note: I will not be doing an obligatory round-robin description of each and every painting in the gallery because when you describe one of Copperwhite’s paintings, you describe them all. Sounds harsh – a premature critique before the window dressing – but this is the case for most solo presentations of painting that lean on the side of abstraction. Painting like this defeats description). Continue reading “Crooked Orbit”

I Wanted to Write a Poem

Jonathan Mayhew, Wexford Arts Centre, 27 February – 25 March 2017

[Infinite Jest] can’t be read at a crowded cafe, or with a child on one’s lap.

Dave Eggers

WINNER of the 2015 Emerging Visual Artist Award, Jonathan Mayhew is one of those artists whose work requires a space where you can hear a pin drop. Wexford Art Centre (WAC) is not that space. Perhaps Mayhew’s exhibition of new work would have fared better in the attention stakes during the recession, when such regional art centres were empty saloons in ghostly Westworlds. During my visit, the endless stream of visitors to the cafe and the hoofing of piano peddles with woohooing children upstairs was a sign of the times. But, there is a big BUT to all of this, which I will get to later.

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Sexting

SARAH DEVEREUX WAS INVITED TO CONTRIBUTE AN ARTWORK COMPOSED OF TEXT AND DRAWING FOR ONLINE VIEWING. THIS CONVERSATION BETWEEN JAMES MERRIGAN AND THE ARTIST AIMS TO DRAW OUT A CONTEXT FOR THIS ARTWORK, WHILE ALSO BROACHING THE SUBJECT OF SEX AND ART.

Devereux small online 2James Merrigan: After experiencing your BFA Degree show in the basement of a building on John’s Lane, Dublin, I was smitten. You disappeared off my radar for a couple of years until sometime in 2014 I caught the tail end of a thread of your perverted commentary on Facebook. There was an uncensored precision to it all that I equated to art, even though it was being displayed on something as fugitive as social media. To my mind you were a cross between American poet Patricia Lockwood’s Twitter ‘sexts’ and Raymond Pettibon’s hyper-dialectic drawings. I questioned why I didn’t get to see more of this kind of stuff, sex stuff, in Irish galleries. Do you know why sex and art don’t tag team as much as they could in the Irish arts scene?
Sarah Devereux: Well James, is this “tag team” a case of art slapping sex in the hand as its partner to tag in against the world, or is it a question of art vs. sex? You have to be more specific when it comes to tag teams. Who is against whom? Is there consent? Is there equal involvement? Is there mud involved? These are the things everyone must ask before partaking in a tag team between sex and art. Is the sex willingly becoming art or is it trying to just remain sex? Are we too afraid to tag in? Or do we think we are better than having sex in the gallery. Of course I mean sex as a subject matter. As a matter of interest, have you?

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Situational Erotics

 

JAMES MERRIGAN ASKS WHY SEX AND ART DON’T ‘SWING’ IN THE IRISH ART SCENE.

I have been thinking a lot about sex recently and its relationship to art. One reason is artist Emma Haugh’s question “How do we imagine a space dedicated to the manifestation of feminine desire?” proposed in her recent solo exhibition ‘The Re-appropriation of Sensuality’ at Dublin’s NCAD Gallery (an edited version of the script performed during the exhibition is included in the March/April VAN).

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