Paul Murnaghan, Limerick City Gallery of Art, 15 September – 30 October 2016
Paul Murnaghan’s exhibition ‘All Mountains Are Moving’ explores archaic belief systems by courting wonderment and superstition. This new body of work refers to outmoded ways of magical thinking, but also arouses a sense of mystery in the viewer through a clever use of materials and techniques that make us question what we are seeing.
‘All Mountains Are Moving’ is exhibited upstairs in Limerick City Gallery of Art across numerous rooms around the square first floor balcony space above the Atrium Gallery. The first room on the right omits a yellowy glow, created by an orange stain on the glass window. In the middle of the room is the sculptural work The stars don’t shine upon us, we’re in the way of their light. This is composed of an unlikely and precarious combination of materials, including an arching arm of plastic covered in fake leather, which is held up by part of a peeled tree branch. Nothing is fixed, but rather employs and seems to transcend the laws of gravity. At one end of the arm is an antique weight which roots the structure to the floor. At the elevated end is a hoover-like mouth with synthetic orange rope hanging from its end. Above this, and at the peak of the arch, is a levitating feather-covered ball that rotates slowly around in the air. This element of the sculpture is captivating and introduces the pervasive sense of mystery and magic that permeates the exhibition. The feather ball also adds an air of fragility to the piece as all the disjointed materials appear to be harmoniously balanced, yet could fall apart at any moment. Through its materiality, The Stars … recalls a lineage of conceptual sculpture by combining the drama of Richard Serra’s balancing steel works with the natural materials of ritualistic practices used in the sculptural installations of self-appointed shaman Joseph Beuys.