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Critique

Dorothy Smith ‘Land Marks’

RHA Ashford Gallery, Dublin 15 March – 22 April 2018 I moved house recently and, in the process, became acutely aware of our perceived ownership of spaces. As I emptied one house of our family’s possessions, our hold on it began to drain. And as we began to fill the new house, our presence began forcing out the previous occupants. Before I turned the key of our old house for the last time, I was left in a space emptied of our things but was also conscious that some of our memories and traces would remain. This often-indiscernible line that exists between physical structures and our relationship to them is

Anthony Mackey ‘Angles: Perspective from the Margins’

Gallery of Modern Art, Waterford 8 – 26 March 2018 The French novelist, Gustave Flaubert, an exponent of literary realism, once stated that “the artist must be in his work as God is in creation, invisible and all-powerful; one must sense him everywhere, but never see him”1. Anthony Mackey’s first solo exhibition accomplished this with consummate skill. His site-specific installation for GOMA employed various mediums and artistic methods to explore social issues of the marginalised community in which he lives and works. The mixed media installation – comprising drawings, printmaking and video – was presented across two gallery spaces, with local people being an integral element. No titles, details, pricelist,

Like Me

The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon 10 February – 31 March 2018 Featuring: Alice Hanratty, Kian Benson Bailes and Eleanor McCaughey ‘Like Me’ is a show which demonstrates the continued relevance and vitality of painting and drawing. Amongst other things, the three artists explore relationships between two-dimensional artworks and architectural space, while art of the past acts as a source of joy and inspiration, rather than as a ‘dead hand’, stifling creativity. Alice Hanratty’s newly-commissioned work, Procession, is a frieze of head-and-shoulder profile portraits, based on Cinquecento paintings, such as Piero della Francesca’s The Duke and Duchess of Urbino (1467–72). The works, which form a continuous frieze around The Dock’s central hall, are

Shane Berkery ‘Contemporary Paintings’

The Molesworth Gallery, Dublin 1 – 24 February 2018 The title of Shane Berkery’s latest exhibition imparts little more than an implied focus on recent work, spotlighting where he is in his developing career through paintings that reflect his influences and interests. Dublin-based with Irish-Japanese parentage, Berkery eschews an overtly conceptual approach to his practice, and so may also be commenting on what contemporary art can be. The 11 canvases fall into two broad groupings, one with images of young ‘contemporary’ subjects, the other drawing on black and white photos relating to his Japanese heritage. Dating from the 1950s and ‘60s, these are characterised by informal poses and the clothing

Push and Pull

RHA Ashford Gallery, Dublin, 19 January – 11 February 2018 In a TED talk entitled ‘How architecture helped music evolve’, the musician David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) suggested that the relationship between architecture and music is directly formative. Byrne argued that the spatial and architectural features of a venue specifically influence the sonic and acoustic characters of the music performed there. In other words, American punk band, Black Flag, are to the small hardcore club what AC/DC are to the open-air area. If we imagine visual art to be engaged in a similarly formative relationship with its venues of display, it is interesting to consider whether Niall de Buitléar’s exhibition,

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

A Sense of Place / Fragmented Realities

Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards, 1 – 24 February 2018 A series of black and white digital photographs by Belfast-based artist, Mariusz Smiejek, was presented in the Georgian Gallery in Ards Arts Centre. The small-scale photographs depicted women within the natural and domestic landscapes of the Ards Peninsula. Strong tonal contrasts played a part in some of these images, whereas others had a softer tonal range. The depth of field also varied; sometimes Smiejek concentrated solely on the subject, while at other times the background was also depicted in detail. The artist explained: “I focus on the person rather than their surroundings, capturing the person rather than things”. That said, the

Sustainable Futures

Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, 8 February – 1 April 2018 ‘Sustainable Futures’ is an ambitious exhibition currently showing at Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, County Cork. The show acts as a focal point for a multifaceted collaborative project bringing contemporary art practice into dialogue with scientific research on sustainability, through a series of talks and events involving artists, the scientific community and local youth groups. Upon entering the East Gallery, the first thing we encounter is David Thomas Smith’s large-scale aerial photographs of the Chrysler factory and Silicon Valley, taken between 2009 and 2010. These are Google Map composites, developed using a meticulous process that works against the low quality of the

Latitudes

Dunamaise Arts Centre, 19 January – 28 February 2018 Tom Climent’s exhibition, ‘Latitudes’, at Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, was described in the gallery text as “investigating the boundaries between abstraction and representation”. Climent presented twelve roughly similar landscapes featuring a central mound, peak or outcrop on a slightly higher-than-centre horizon line. While these compositions fall within the recognisable tradition of landscape painting, the artist’s synthetic colour palette, along with occasional architectural additions, serve to unsettle the familiarity that the genre normally fosters. Perhaps Climent’s expansion of this disciplinary boundary is less focused on stylistic approaches and more concerned with how the viewer rationalises personal expectations of painting. It helps that they

Amharc Fhine Gall 11th Edition

Draíocht Arts Centre, 22 November 2017 – 3 February 2018 In Yvonne McGuinness’s two-channel film installation, Holding ground where the wood lands (2017) – commissioned for this year’s ‘Amharc Fhine Gall (Fingal Gaze)’ exhibition – a group of adolescents from a local Foróige club are depicted meandering through open fields and woodlands surrounding the former Plunkett Estate in Portmarnock (now Malahide Golf Club). Centred around a pivotal and formative time in their lives, the film fluctuates between documentary film and directed theatrics and depicts the young men engaged in a series of performative actions.

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