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Critique

Bren Smyth ‘Substance of Things’

Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin 25 July – 4 August 2018 Bren Smyth’s ‘Substance of Things’ at Pallas Projects/Studios consisted of nine framed works on paper. Curated by Róisín Bohan, this was Smyth’s first solo exhibition, which was funded by Dublin City Council. The Artist-Initiated Programme at Pallas has proved crucial in the Dublin context, where accessible platforms for emerging artists to exhibit their work appear to be diminishing. The nine works displayed were mostly monochromatic, made using charcoal and gesso. The surface quality of each work has a tension between the chalky dry white gesso and the greasy application of the black charcoal. Most works tend towards grisaille, although there are

Klaudia Olszyńska ‘51.791384, -8.291099’

Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group, Cork 20 July – 17 August 2018 Klaudia Olszyńska’s exhibition at Studio 12 in Backwater Artists Group consists of four mixed-media works that could be best described as ‘expanded paintings’. The exhibition takes its title from the GPS map coordinates of an area revealed via Google maps to be along Fennell’s Bay Road in Myrtleville, County Cork. The resonance of the works is posited (in a paragraph-long contextualisation) as residing in the abandoned buildings present at the places with which they share coordinates. The colour scheme of the works revolves around blacks, greys, off-white plaster shades and diffused, near mould-coloured greens. All contain the downward

Ronnie Hughes & Evgeniya Martirosyan ‘Outflow’

126 Artist-Run Gallery, Galway 16 – 29 July 2018 ‘Outflow’, a two-person show at 126 Artist-Run Gallery, was one of the highlights of this year’s contemporary art offerings at the Galway International Arts Festival. It was a thoughtful and considered pairing of two very different artists, curated with sensitivity by Stephan Roche. The intricate, puzzle-like, abstract paintings of Ronnie Hughes were teamed with Evgeniya Martirosyan’s sculptural mechanisms and enigmatic film. The two bodies of work both contrasted and complemented each other, each presenting different interpretations on themes of accumulation, pattern and system theories. Numerous abstract figures and forms populate Hughes’s intimately-sized paintings, which draw the viewer in close. I was

Justine McDonnell ‘A composition of she’

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast 19 July – 25 August 2018 Bare interior. Protruding grey stage. Stage set in darkness. Curtains drawn.      Centre left of stage, she stands, faintly lit, from close-up and below      She is enveloped from head to foot in black.      Behind She, the Other emerges out of darkness.      Motionless off stage three Narrators stand, facing directly across from the stage.      They face front, without deviation, throughout.      An invisible microphone sits beneath each mouth.      Their speech is prompted by a pronounced breath.      Each voice toneless, except where an expression is indicated.    

Leo Boyd ‘Welcome to the Simulation’

Atom Gallery, London 5 – 26 May 2018 There is an immediate urgency to ideas surrounding the digital – whether in terms of its technological capabilities, the dark underbelly of its culture, or in its increasing influence across political and economic spheres. It feels definitive of the present moment in a way that is all-consuming, whilst also being difficult to fully articulate. Belfast-based street artist and printmaker Leo Boyd wrestles with the philosophical questions posed by artificial intelligence, by taking influence from the work of Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. Are we living in a computer simulation? Perhaps life as we know it is nothing but fragments of data on some

Gerry Blake ‘Into the Sea’

Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray 19 May – 30 June 2018 When is a photograph just a photograph? How can we ask questions of the photographic image that interrogate the specificity of the medium, without having the subject matter consume our attention? The flippant answer is that we can’t; or at least it is not possible without turning a blind eye to the material world disclosed through the photographic image. Even the vernacular modernism of the 1950s and ‘60s, which sought to create a culture of ‘photography for photography’s sake’, drew on the flow of everyday life to gesture towards photography’s intrinsic characteristics as a medium of visual communication. These questions

Sarah Walker ‘Tree Drawings on the Sky’

Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin 10 May – 22 June 2018 “When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult.” 1 Oliver Sears Gallery is located in a Georgian building on Molesworth Street. It was designed as a home, but now its rooms are beautifully used to show artwork. Recently shown at the gallery was Sarah Walker’s ‘Tree Drawings on the Sky’, a series of nine tapestries based on drawings from the period immediately prior to the death of her mother, the art critic Dorothy Walker

Elizabeth Magill ‘Headland’

Ulster Museum, Belfast 11 May – 23 September 2018 ‘Headland’ is a major exhibition of recent paintings by Elizabeth Magill, powerfully displayed across two large gallery spaces at Belfast’s Ulster Museum. Developed in partnership with Limerick City Gallery of Art and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (both of which have hosted the exhibition already), ‘Headland’ has finally come to Belfast and will by no means disappoint those who have long anticipated its arrival. The exhibition, which presents 24 landscape paintings, draws attention to Magill as one of the region’s finest painters. The bare limbs of trees dominate the dimly-lit gallery spaces, twisting their way across the majority of the works

Martin Gale ‘Bloodlines’

Taylor Galleries, Dublin 11 May – 2 June 2018 Martin Gale’s realist oil paintings, presented in his recent solo exhibition ‘Bloodlines’ at Taylor Galleries, bring to mind the work of masters of the American Realism genre, including Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper. Whilst Wyeth expressed a rural American splendour and Hopper depicted lonely urban dwellers of apartments and American diners, Gale’s paintings are distinctly Irish – resulting in singular visions of our own ‘wild west’ (though probably Kildare, where the artist lives). Minus Wyeth’s ethereality and doubling down on Hopper’s ominous isolation, Gale paints technicolour scenes reminiscent of The Quiet Man, minus the humour, suggesting Ireland, at moments, as perhaps

‘Paintings (Uillinn Series)’ / ‘Metamurmuration’

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre 3 March – 10 April 2018 Featuring: David Quinn and Joanna Kidney David Quinn’s show at Uillinn consists of two artworks, Uillinn Series One to Nineteen (2018) and Zero (2018). The former consists of 19 small abstract works on paper and wood, composed of gesso, oil-based pencil and oil bar. All are uniform in size and are hung at eyelevel on two opposing walls of the James O’Driscoll Gallery. Their location is not best served by the open plan setting, as sound from the reception area spills into the gallery. This highlights a common dilemma within contemporary publicly-funded art galleries: demands for public accessibility, interactivity and inclusiveness

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