Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review of: Anne Madden: Colours of the Wind - Ariadne's Thread






















An edited version of this piece was published in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on 13 August 2017.  


 As the muse of Louis le Brocquy, Anne Madden’s place in Irish art history is secure. The permanence  of her reputation as an artist only time will tell. Her work has tended towards the decorative – with a penchant for large scale paintings often in dramatic colours such as cerise, magenta and orange. These are pleasing enough on the eye but somehow lacking that visceral or radiant element that constitutes the real thing. Her current show in the Hugh Lane illustrates her shortcomings. The myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur is a dark and bloody tale of sacrifice, lust and betrayal. Its essence is hardly conveyed by a show that consists of an array of candy-coloured panels, a few cosmic streamers, and some dark intimations conveyed by a brace of horned heads. The painting entitled The Labyrinth (above) is a particularly weakly executed piece lacking both geometry and poetry. The gaudy rhetoric of these works seems unlikely to lead us to “a deeper understanding of the nature of existence” which is the artists’s aim according to her blurb writer. It also begs the question as to whether the show merits three large rooms in one of our major art museums.    

 Dublin City Gallery    The Hugh Lane

John P. O'Sullivan 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Nature Morte - Nick Miller








































An edited version (sabotaging the Herrick allusion) of this review appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on 30 July 2017.    


The title of Nick Miller’s impressive and expressive new show in Skibbereen can be translated as “still life”. However, the French term “nature morte” carries a resonance confirming that mortality is the issue here. The paintings were inspired by a long-term creative project at Sligo’s North West Hospice and by his mother’s terminal illness. He used a selection of her vases and other vessels to add a personal dimension to the universal truth implicit in the work. The flowers are on the turn, some petals strewn around the bases, but we still see the glory of what they were. They present to us intimations of mortality and a poignant reminder of the transitory beauty of this world. The varities chosen represent the changing of the seasons: the hazel, the honeysuckle, the blackthorn and the fair daffodils that haste away so soon. The paintings have an energy and immediacy that come from being painted at one sitting. The artist is determined to seize the time – tomorrow may be too late.


Catherine Hammond Gallery
Skibbereen


 John P. O'Sullivan

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ana Maria Pacheco

























An edited version of this piece was published in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 23 July 2017.     

Ana Maria Pacheco is a Brazilian artist who moved to London over 40 years ago when her homeland was ruled by a military dictatorship. She is the first non-European artist to become an Associate Artist at the National Gallery. This auspicious show, her first in the Republic of Ireland, is dominated by the sculptural installation Dark Night of the Soul. It’s a depiction of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, no doubt influenced by her immersion in Renaissance art at the National Gallery, especially the painting of the same subject by Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo. It also has echoes of the painted wooden sculptures of Antonio Francisco Lisboa from her native land. This dramatic work consists of nineteen life-sized polychrome wooden sculptures showing the naked saint pierced by arrows surrounded by brutal enforcers and grieving women.The black mask covering the victim’s head has a contemporary resonance - suggesting Abu Ghraib and and the continuing appetite for inflicting pain and humiliation on those from whom we differ.   

 Festival Gallery,  Galway  


 John P. O'Sullivan

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Vivienne Dick at IMMA

                         





















This review appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 25 June 2017.


Dick has been described as the “quintessential No Wave filmmaker”. This will be seen as a
compliment in some quarters and an indictment in others. No Wave was punk with added dissonance and nihilism. These days the Donegal-born erstwhile darling of the New York avant garde is lecturing on film in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The show is a survey of her work from her Super-8 beginnings in 1978 to Augenblick, a new piece filmed in 2017. Although the production values have improved over the years, as have the visual aesthetics, the concerns remain the same: social and sexual politics, street life, and the history of ideas. Despite a faint whiff of didacticism the films succeed in being both entertaining and thought-provoking. Dick’s work is presented  alongside photographs by Nan Goldin – a fellow-traveller in her No Wave days. There’s a resonant early image of Dick as wide-eyed ingenue sitting next to Trixie, one of the undead from the New York club scene.

Irish Museum of Modern Art


John P. O'Sullivan

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

John Shinnors - New Paintings

 
       





















This review appeared originally in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 11 June 2017. 


 John Shinnors, the Chiaroscuro Kid, is back in town after a lengthy hiatus following a serious car accident.  He has rounded up his customary entourage of animals for our delectation. His fondness for Friesians, ideal subjects for exercises in light and shade, is again in evidence and there are a number of nocturnal creatures lurking in the shadows. There are assorted cats, a badger, and a fox rapidly exiting the picture as foxes do. His familiar motifs of lighthouse and scarecrow are also employed, warnings for the unwary that there’s danger out there. You can have fun identifying the figurative elements within these ostensibly abstract paintings. His Figure at a Bustop is the most overtly sinister piece, featuring a dark silhouette against the blood-red vertical of the signpost. Thirty years after his first solo show in Dublin, Shinnors continues to be a distinctive and original voice with his unique blend of the playful and the eerily portentous.            


 Taylor Galleries
 Dublin 2  

 John P. O'Sullivan
 June 2017