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Critique

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

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,

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