Category: Critique

Critique: ‘Over Nature’

Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin
14 November – 21 December 2019

Arriving late to view ‘Over Nature’ at Rathfarnham Castle means settling into a very particular viewing condition – namely one of silence. First encountered in this group show (curated by Valeria Ceregini) is an installation by Shane Finan. In an unrestored dining room, a projector casts landscape video footage onto a faint and skeletal painting that spans two large canvases. The projector is controlled by the viewer through a small touchscreen device, upon which a grid of options appears, displaying geometric symbols. Each of these options is linked to a separate … Read the rest

Critique: Eoin Mc Hugh ‘Loje, Jelo, Laso’

Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
25 October – 7 December 2019

Speaking on Luke Clancy’s ‘Culture File’ on RTÉ Radio 1,  Eoin Mc Hugh offered ‘Loje, Jelo, Laso’ (Red, Yellow, Blue) as straightforwardly phonetic, like all of the words in Toki Pona, a philosophical language invented – believe it or not – to make things easier to understand.1 McHugh’s titles have previously referenced poetry and psychoanalysis, in an oeuvre rich with allusions to both. Clearly interested in language and how it relates to our perception of art, he complicates things considerably here by choosing titles – our traditional access points – … Read the rest

Critique: ‘Scaffold’

The Bomb Factory Art Foundation, London
23 October – 3 November 2019

You don’t need me to recap the stories – the promise of the internet turned sour – but perhaps it was always heading that way? What began as a research project by the US military, in the heat of the Cold War, has metastasised into an elaborate, sophisticated surveillance network. The mainstream news is littered with reports of data mining, privacy violations, election hacking, and workers’ rights being deleted. Suddenly the internet is everywhere, inescapable and bad for us… 

Over the last decade, the response from artists to … Read the rest

Critique: Camille Souter & Frank Morris

Custom House Studios & Gallery, Westport
19 October – 1 December 2019

Any exhibition featuring Camille Souter’s work is going to have immediate visual impact, and her recent retrospective at the Custom House Studios in Westport was no exception. Curated by her biographer, Garrett Cormican, the exhibition featured 24 works, ranging in date from 1955 to 2015, grouped by decade throughout the ground floor gallery. Several paintings – including When the Mist Comes Down (1964), The Musical Clown at Duffy’s Circus (c. 1966–67), My Father’s Garden (c.1970) and My Father’s Greenhouse (c.1970) – engaged with the concept of memory, and … Read the rest

Critique: Doireann Ní Ghrioghair ‘Declaration of the State Metropolis at Tara’

Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin
31 October – 16 November 2019

Doireann Ní Ghrioghair’s recent exhibition, ‘Declaration of the State Metropolis at Tara’, presented a series of new sculptures, which reimagine the work of architect Daithí Ó hÁinle, who mapped plans for a new capital city for Ireland at Tara, County Meath, in 1942. Ó hÁinle was a member of Ailtirí na hAiséirghe, a far-right political party formed in the same year, whose stated aims included transforming Ireland into a fascist, one-party Catholic state, where emigration would be criminalised and the speaking of English forbidden. As no actual drawings exist for Ní … Read the rest

‘Open Minds’

Rua Red, Tallaght
6 September – 5 October 2019

‘Open Minds’ featured over 70 artworks made in Irish prison education programmes, with the installation at Rua Red furnishing a metaphor for imprisonment. We know nothing of these artists’ lives. They were necessarily anonymous, with artworks attributed not to the artists, but to the institutions that confined them. No context concerning them was available, save for the titles they had given their work. It was rarely clear quite what was on show. Prison Staircase, a spiralling, assiduous pencil drawing from Wheatfield Prison, was typically enigmatic. But a sense of the … Read the rest

Joanne Boyle

Mermaid Arts Centre, Wicklow
13 September – 26 October 2019

Joanne Boyle’s solo exhibition at Mermaid Arts Centre can be viewed as a testing ground for her ideas around material processes and display. The exhibition comprises oil paintings and glazed porcelain pieces, reflecting Boyle’s attempts to “articulate the non-everyday occurrence alongside the everyday”. The idea of an exhibition as an installation is also evident. As Boris Groys observed in his essay ‘Politics of Installation’: “Today, there is no longer any ‘ontological’ difference between making art and displaying art. In the context of contemporary art, to make art is to show … Read the rest

David Ian Bickley ‘Threads’

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen
20 September 2019 (Culture Night)

David Ian Bickley’s latest film, Threads, was presented on Culture Night in a darkened studio space at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre. In the small landing leading to this space, Three Candles was installed, comprising a prose piece and a video interview with local historian Gerald O’Brien, shown on a monitor with headphones. The story tells of a body lost in a river and located using folk-magic means. This tale was the inspiration for Threads, as well as the prose piece, a meandering stream of consciousness, presented … Read the rest

Claire Halpin ‘Raw War’

Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin
12 September – 6 October 2019

Claire Halpin’s exhibition, ‘Raw War’, is a mystical interpretation of the horror of war. Using miniature retablo-style compositions, Halpin captures the human instinct to contain tragedy within defined boundaries of understanding. In one series, small square panels feature sharply edged circular paintings of disaster on the Mediterranean, as refugees crowd vessels in search of safety. Halpin pins these events within a telescopic lens, referencing surveillance by the military, governments and news media. With startling clarity and expression, she skilfully renders the confusion of people clambering into sinking boats or attempting … Read the rest

Sarah Long ‘Kingdom’

Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group, Cork
12 September – 11 October 2019

Unsteadiness is a deliberate quality of Sarah Long’s work, recently exhibited at Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group in Cork. For this exhibition, titled ‘Kingdom’, Long presented five mixed-media works on canvas and one wire-based sculpture. Behind blotches of paint, the canvases lie host to trembling pencil lines, indexing a shakiness of either the hand or ground. Tremors would exit through the utensil either way, traveling between floor and body and, in Long’s show, right to the tip of the art objects themselves; as a viewer nears the glass … Read the rest