Existential Observers

MARK O’KELLY DISCUSSES ASPECTS OF PORTRAIT PAINTING IN IRELAND.

Early portraiture can be viewed as an historical instrument of class identification, patriarchal gaze and institutional hegemony. It could also be argued that, over the years, important significations of portraiture have been exploited and aesthetically challenged through the deconstructive approaches of key historical and contemporary Irish artists. This complex field has huge public appeal and carries immense prestige for artist and subject at the level of national identity, recognition and status.

The historical context for contemporary Irish portraiture and the breadth of current practice have been highlighted in a range of recent events: the Freud Project at IMMA; the reopening of the National Portrait Collection; and numerous high-profile portrait commissions by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), the National Gallery and the Hennessy Portrait Prize. The specific genre of portrait painting in Ireland has been largely sustained through the work of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). Such ongoing efforts to collect, exhibit and commission portraiture attest to the importance of the genre within many of this country’s most important institutions. Continue reading “Existential Observers”

Texture of a Medium

ALISON PILKINGTON LOOKS AT CURRENT PRACTICES IN IRISH ABSTRACT PAINTING.

“We are all at present, far more divided, less empowered and certainly far less connected to the effects of our world than we should be. It is for this reason that I am deeply involved in the texture of a medium capable of universalizing so much lost intimacy.” 1

The term ‘abstract painting’ is historical and, over time, the parameters of the genre seem to have collapsed. It could be argued that to write about abstract painting as if it were a genre that has some significant position within contemporary art, might be a somewhat redundant inquiry. The term itself has been debated and contested throughout the history of twentieth century art, with the traditional meaning of abstraction shifting considerably. To say that ‘abstract painting is alive and well’ in current Irish painting practices also seems an outmoded way of summarising what painters do with their material and medium. As described by Briony Fer in her book, On Abstract Art: “As a label, abstract art is on the one hand too all inclusive: it covers a diversity of art and different historical movements that really hold nothing in common except a refusal to figure objects.”2

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Landscape and the Built Environment

RAMON KASSAM PRESENTS A SURVEY OF CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE PAINTING IN IRELAND.

The 1920s and 30s saw an extraordinary increase in the popularity and production of landscape paintings in Ireland. Paul Henry and Jack B. Yeats, who are currently being exhibited side by side in Limerick’s Hunt Museum, were two of the major protagonists of that era. In contrast, European painting at that time was in the throes of Modernism, producing aesthetic innovation after innovation, which was largely self-analytical and retreating into its own flatness. Such concerns seemed secondary for many Irish artists, which would suggest that motivations were being shaped by different factors. These artists did engage in self-reflexive processes, but did so with the aim of exploring identity politics, with landscape painting becoming an important vehicle. The case is usually made that the prevailing subjects and sensibilities in Irish painting emerged as a result of post-independence Ireland’s distrust of Modernism, as well as the conservative social values asserted by the church and state. However, the precedence placed on landscape as a subject can also be perceived as the result of the newly-formed, post-colonial position of Irish artists. In this way, painting the landscape can be understood as an act of repossession, a reclaiming of territory and culture.

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The Social, Economic, and Fiscal Status of the Visual Artist in Ireland 2016 [ROI]

Social Economic and Fiscal Status of the Visual Artists in Ireland 2016
Social Economic and Fiscal Status of the Visual Artists in Ireland 2016

The 2016 Social, Economic and Fiscal Status of the Visual Artists in Ireland survey was undertaken in January 2016. The survey results are provided with the comparative data from 2011 and 2013. This year’s report will be the first year that specific attention is placed on gender and also the number of years that respondents have been a professional visual artist.  We have found that this latter area is more meaningful to visual artists than taking an age profile, though it is possible to use that breakdown for other analysis outside the remit of this report. Continue reading “The Social, Economic, and Fiscal Status of the Visual Artist in Ireland 2016 [ROI]”

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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