Category: Critique

‘See you tomorrow’

Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh
2 May – 7 July 2019

‘See you Tomorrow’ – an ambitious collection of public projects, led by Australian artists Elizabeth Woods and Kevin Leong – has transformed Sirius Arts Centre into a hub of activity. On first impression, the space was busy and alive, albeit slightly confounding. Bread machines whirred in one corner of the room, while leaflets were scattered across a table in another. A video work depicting a serious looking performance of semaphore occupied one end of the space, while at the opposite end, a pile of booklets lay under a bell jar. … Read the rest

‘Social Commons’

Liberty Hall Theatre, Dublin
2 – 12 May 2019 

Francis Fay, The Knight of Mirrors, 2019, performance, 2 May; photograph by Kathryn Maguire

Presented in the congenial lobby, stairs and bar areas of Liberty Hall Theatre, ‘Social Commons’ was curated by Kathryn Maguire and Siobh McGrane for May Fest – SIPTU’s “celebration of workers’ culture”. Where the ‘commons’ denotes a shared physical resource, ‘social commons’ can mean a dispensation of peer-to-peer relationships, parallel to private and State structures, aimed at promoting a ‘general good’. The term refers not just to redistribution, but to transformative communal self-understanding. At the base … Read the rest

Karen Daye-Hutchinson ‘A Harlot’s Progress’

ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast
2 May – 1 June 2019

‘A Harlot’s Progress’ refers to William Hogarth’s series of the same name – a moral tale of the short life of one Moll Hackabout, who travels from the countryside to London, falls into prostitution, and succumbs to syphilis and death. Artist Karen Daye-Hutchinson’s interpretation of the sequence goes beyond the scope of Hogarth, not only in comprising 12 etchings (as opposed to Hogarth’s six engravings), but also via a prologue in which we learn the motivations of the young woman to leave her ‘shit hole’ of a village and seek her … Read the rest

Sven Anderson and Gerard Byrne ‘A Visibility Matrix’

Void Gallery, Derry
16 April – 8 June 2019

I’m standing in a dark forest. I can hear an ambient rustling and that distinct murmur of the wind, only audible to a fabric microphone. Disconnected rectangles of leaves and sky are visible at eye level; I can briefly feel the forest as I look up towards the grey-blue light diffusing onto the walls. Then a voice declares: “Abort! Lacking power or effect” – and it’s gone.

A forest of identical televisions is installed in pairs throughout Void’s galleries – some are back to back, others at perpendicular angles. Each screen … Read the rest

Hannah Fitz ‘OK’

Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
23 April – 25 May 2019

Hannah Fitz’s exhibition, ‘OK’, comprises eight crudely sculpted life-size figures of boys cavorting clumsily around the spartan environment of the Kerlin’s white cube. The premise for the gathering is a mob of football fans on match day, as they crouch, stand, jostle, show off and celebrate, alone or in pairs around the gallery. 

One can’t help feeling pity for their rudimentary facelessness and gawky execution in dirty white plaster, while at the same time trying to figure out the relevance of their lumpen physicality and apparent worthlessness. The few props that … Read the rest

Walker and Walker ‘Nowhere Without No(w)’

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
15 February – 3 June 2019

‘Nowhere Without No(w)’ highlights Walker and Walker’s longstanding interest in the Modernist canon – particularly Charles Baudelaire and Stephane Mallarmé, in this instance. The themes of the works presented – and the artists’ long-running collaborative practice – are diverse, but Romantic association predominates.

The exhibition is exactingly prescriptive in its use of ideas and literary references. Its sleekly direct and literal translations of ideas into form invoke the aesthetic austerity of the conceptual tradition. However, its sensuous silvers and inky blacks exacerbate the cerebral quality into kitsch and … Read the rest

Anita Groener ‘The Past Is A Foreign Country’

The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon
19 January – 9 March 2019

Stories of displacement are not aesthetic. These are rushed, unplanned, reactive situations, without much time or resources for calculation or intention. Perhaps this is part of the reason why many people find it hard to identify with asylum seekers; it is difficult for most of us to comprehend such an urgent need to escape danger and to find a safer place. 

Anita Groener’s recent exhibition at The Dock captured this challenge, before we even approached the work. The title, ‘The Past Is A Foreign Country’ – taken from the opening of … Read the rest

Sam Reveles ‘Poulaphouca: New Paintings & Works on Paper’

Butler Gallery, Kilkenny
17 March – 12 May 2019

‘Poulaphouca’ at the Butler Gallery is Sam Reveles’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Ireland. The fourteen works on display in the four adjoining galleries include Reveles’s most recent paintings and works on paper. The exhibition is a journey of an experience which demonstrates the development and shifts in Reveles’s work over the last few years.

In the first gallery space, one of the artist’s earlier works, Cill Rialaig 2, is an elemental example of his previous ‘grey’ period. The paper is approached episodically; an underlay of grey wash is erased … Read the rest

‘MAKing Art: The PAINTing Exhibition’

Draíocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown
14 March – 18 May 2019

Immediacy, I’ve found, has always been an underlying characteristic of much contemporary painting. I’ve never tried to pull back the curtain of the canvas, in search of hidden meaning lurking beyond sight. Surely, I thought, there is no code to crack; what you see is what you get. However, this limiting preconception was unilaterally turned on its head by ‘MAKing Art:PAINTing’. Sitting with the paintings in this group exhibition – which includes work by Susan Connolly, Bridget Flannery, Geraldine O’Neill and Liz Rackard – I found nostalgia, warmth and physical … Read the rest

Geraldine O’Sullivan ‘Light Keepers’

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen
9 March – 10 April 2019

The crisp depiction of County Cork’s Fastnet Lighthouse – tall and erect yet submerged in a sea of blue – opens Geraldine O’Sullivan’s exhibition, ‘Light Keepers’ at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre. As one of 14 artworks on display, this painting immediately anchors the viewer in what unfurls as a world of green gushes, titanium white surf and brilliant blue horizons. 

O’Sullivan’s paintings are accompanied by 11 mixed-media collages that act as visual documentation of the information, stories and anecdotes the artist has encountered since commencing research into … Read the rest