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Critique

Paper Trails

Mary Patterson, Ballina Arts Centre, 10 November – 31 December 2016 Arriving at Ballina Arts Centre on a wild November morning and seeing the River Moy in flood, the logic of Mary Patterson’s exhibition seems very clear: to try to find responses to nature through art. The appropriately named ‘Paper Trails’ features a series of works on paper created through a formidable range of drawing and printmaking processes. Patterson’s use of diverse techniques forms part of her quest to identify a medium and a language that can convey the beauty and complexity of nature. The artworks that feature in the exhibition are displayed in the open-plan landing space that curves

Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016

National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 26 November 2016 – 26 March 2017 There are 14 portraits in this exhibition of shortlisted works. Surrounding the viewer on all sides, in each one a lone figure is presented (why no couples or groups?) and this singular focus contributes to the sense we’re in the company of deities. There are also a lot of big heads, their presence dominating the small room at the top of the Millennium Wing’s forbidding stairs. Of course the figure of the artist is also present, directly in the self-portraits, or otherwise implicated. Open to artists in all disciplines, the shortlist consists mostly of paintings, nine in total,

The Touching Contract

Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones, the Rotunda Hospital Pillar Room, Dublin, 23 – 25 September 2016 The day of the second public performance of Jesse Jones and Sarah Browne’s The Touching Contract fell on a date of heightened emotion for women in Ireland, taking place just hours after Dublin saw thousands take to the streets in the fifth annual March for Choice, part of the campaign demanding that the government repeal the Eighth Amendment. The atmosphere in the Rotunda Pillar Room’s ante-chamber was withdrawn and respectful; the audience appeared fragile. The third chapter of four performative works in the pair’s first collaboration ‘In the Shadow of the State’ was devised in

Expanding Spaces

Robert Kelly, Draoícht, Blanchardstown, 24 September – 19 November Robert Kelly is a print-maker whose appetite for exploration takes his work from the flat surface into three-dimensional space. In his latest exhibition, this space is the ground-floor gallery at Draoícht, where some works are conventionally framed while others emerge and expand to more fully occupy the architecture. This choreography leads the viewer on an unfolding visual journey, underpinned by thought and process. The artworks also feature material folds, which manipulate internal spatial relations and introduce conceal-and-reveal dynamics.

All Mountains Are Moving

Paul Murnaghan, Limerick City Gallery of Art, 15 September – 30 October 2016 Paul Murnaghan’s exhibition ‘All Mountains Are Moving’ explores archaic belief systems by courting wonderment and superstition. This new body of work refers to outmoded ways of magical thinking, but also arouses a sense of mystery in the viewer through a clever use of materials and techniques that make us question what we are seeing. ‘All Mountains Are Moving’ is exhibited upstairs in Limerick City Gallery of Art across numerous rooms around the square first floor balcony space above the Atrium Gallery. The first room on the right omits a yellowy glow, created by an orange stain on the

Now Came Still Evening On

John Coyle and Gary Coyle, The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, 10 September – 12 November   ‘Now Came Still Evening On’ is a unique exhibition presenting the work of father and son John and Gary Coyle. John’s intimate paintings occupy The Dock’s light and airy Gallery One while Gary has created a vast immersive installation in the largest of The Dock’s three galleries. John Coyle’s paintings and drawings depict scenes and people close to his studio and home. The works have a conciseness and authority clearly developed over a long career. They are reminiscent of the intimiste paintings of Vuillard and Bonnard, and of works by their more northerly descendants in Dublin and London.

Glow: Variations on a Theme

Tom Climent, Eamon Colman, William Crozier, Neal Greig, Eilís O’Connell, Peter Martin, James McCreary, Michael Ray, Conor Walton, Catherine Hammond Gallery, Skibbereen, County Cork, 9 September – 19 October     The stated aim of this group exhibition was to explore and interpret the idea and theme ‘Glow’, visually echoing the shift from late summer into autumn, whether experienced as a continuous radiant beam from a light source, the result of energy produced by vibrating electric colours or, contrastingly, through the gentle light of changing luminosity. Eamon Colman’s two large oils on paper, Seeking refuge, the green earth turned towards the river and Morning swim by the Sultan’s tower introduce a strong

Creative Peninsula

Ards Arts Centre, 5 – 14 August ‘Creative Peninsula’ doesn’t operate like a curated exhibition because it isn’t one. It bears mentioning yet seems obtuse to point out, given that exhibition making isn’t really what this collection of work is about. ‘Creative Peninsula’ is a yearly presentation by Ards and North Down local authority, the premise of which is simply to showcase artists and makers within the area. As a result, the work within it is hugely diverse in focus, media and rigour. However, as is often seen in similar wide reaching events – studio collective exhibitions, for example, or final-year student presentations – grouping practices solely on shared geography is

Capillarium

Selected from an open call for applications and commissioned by Queen’s University Belfast, Capillarium (2016) by Kevin Killen is a work located outside the recently-built Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, an interdisciplinary research centre building on the Health Sciences campus.

I Have Nada So Far But I Remain Optimistic

David Fagan, Tactic, Cork, 23 June – 20 July 2016 Sometimes I find it interesting, on my first encounter with an exhibition, to pretend I am illiterate. A brightly lit, concrete-floored rectangle. A white sentence on a red floating partition. Three separate clusters of green glass beer bottles. On one wall, a black and white photograph of four suited and bespectacled persons unknown; on the opposite, a colour photograph of two men in a pub, one to the rear, one to the fore. A pedestal upon which a ticket and ticket receipt are propped, another sentence in the crook of the wall, this time in red. A video, one moment showing

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