Black & White

Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, 13 January – 25 February 2018

Does a ‘feminine aesthetic’ exist? It’s a divisive hypothesis (and a possibly unanswerable question) that came to mind upon viewing Jane O’Malley’s exhibition, ‘Black & White’, at the Butler Gallery. The fifty pieces shown included several etchings and aquatint prints, as well as sketches in an array of media, including chalk, Conté crayon, pastel, oil, pen and ink. As the title implies, this body of work is monochromatic, although a couple of pieces display slight intrusions of yellow. O’Malley’s ease with her wide range of media is immediately apparent. Lines are loose, fluid and used sparingly but effectively. There is a pleasing juxtaposition of sparse details – a simple outline suffices to suggest a jug, a straw, a bowl of cherries – with repetition used to add substance and pattern, as in the fields and flora of her Chinese brush drawings. O’Malley also has numerous techniques in her repertoire; these include uninterrupted fine line, scratching and removing marks. In At Michael Joe’s with Bob Quinn the Dog, 1984, she achieves an extraordinary luminosity in her rendering of the pots, bottles and jugs, through a combination of such techniques. Continue reading “Black & White”