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