Des Kenny Reviews – Yvonne McGuinness ‘Holding ground where the wood lands’

December 18, 2017

Yvonne McGuiness is the latest recipient of the Amharc Fine Gall award which is coordinated by Fingal Arts Office to promote artists who reside in Fingal. The artist utilises various disciplines in her broad based practice to explore the lives of teenage boys approaching the cusp of manhood. In a corner of Draíocht ground floor gallery a split video projection shimmers life on a blank wall. The two projections present the same integrated storyline but the corner of the gallery wall acts as a border separating the timeline and sequence of similar events while remaining within eye line of the viewer. The sequential shift of the two projections does not fragment or disrupt the thread of the plot but recompose additional layers of interpretation in a quiet unobtrusive manner.

The opening shot captures a hooded crow casting a glazed predatory eye over playing fields as seagulls scramble for worms in the sodden earth. The distinctive call of a peacock flares through the air from adjoining fields. The camera scans the scrubland for this exotic bird when the screen unexpectantly presents the face of a young man. He opens his mouth and emits the plaintiff cry of the peacock. This inexplicable occurrence creates a surreal atmosphere for the all the other actions which take place in the film. Catching the viewer off guard, momentarily disrupting a linear perception to the storyline, liberates the viewers imagination from a predetermined outlook towards the film. The actor appears to shift off script as if driven by an internal force outside his control, hooking the viewer’s attention to remain alert for the unexpected.

We see a group of youths wander aimlessly through a wooded land emitting suppressed screams, announcing their presence to an echoless forest. The primal scream frees the group from innate restraints that would inhibit the internal kindling of transforming spontaneity which may unearth new truths about themselves.  A sapling is dug up and carried with them on their journey while a provocative blue line is painted on a grass verge. Acts that appear irrational and incomprehensible early in the film have a reflective and restorative implication as the narrative unfolds towards the films conclusion. In the black night the youths discover by torchlight the blue line painted earlier in the day and replant the sapling. The elemental desire to belong to the natural world at times requires a ritualistic enactment of connectivity even if it is an unconscious transaction. It is uncertain if these young men are aware of the ceremonial nature of these activities and the primal impulse that influences their actions.

Away from the constraints of suburban life they set up a rudimentary camp, hanging long strips of cloth from branches and gather firewood. They add to graffiti on a wall with the proclamation “Begin Again” no doubt wishing to supplant old conceptions of society with a new understanding of the world they inhabit. Sitting around the campfire as the darkness surrounds them, they try to formulate a wording that explains their current existence and what the future might promise. As they search for words that explore and reposition their desire to find meaning in a life as yet unburdened by responsibility, they inexplicably howl at the darkness. Perhaps this animalistic incantation is a deep rooted need not to wholly surrender to a rational structure found within the confines of language. Nevertheless their use of language holds sway and has a poetic resonance that rises and ebbs with the flittering flames of the camp fire. Words and flames combine to keep the untouchable darkness at bay both within themselves and the outer forces of remorseless reality.

Putting on lifejackets and armed with torches they leave the security of the camp fire and are absorbed by the dark shadows of the night. In time they discover the blue line painted earlier on the grass and replant the sapling that was removed from the nourishing earth. In unison they cry out “Begin Again” and move off towards the twinkling lights of civilisation. This simple decree for the youthful group of men if cramped by life’s woes you can always start afresh.

Around the gallery floor are video screens embedded in logs depicting a boy half hidden behind a tree. The only discernible movement on the screen is the flickering motion of the boy’s eyelid. Gouged into the trees bark is an eye shaped form which substitutes and replaces the function of the eye hidden behind the tree trunk. The youth is part of nature and not beyond its influence. When we forget to recognise the need for initiation rites that bring nature closer to society we create a more impoverished culture. Thick black electric cables meander like pathways through the wooden stumps on the gallery floor. While acting as a conduit for electricity to the video monitors they also lead the eye to the wall caption where bold black letters describe the youthful activity of the young actors in the film.

This is a demanding show for the spectator since it takes time to absorb the unimposing subtleties found embedded in all the shows varied components but it is an opportunity justly rewarded as we get  a deeper understanding of the lives of young men  and their need to create rites of passage as manhood approaches.

 

Yvonne McGuinness – Amharc Fhine Gall 11th Edition 
Wed 22 Nov – Sat 03 Feb 2018 
Ground Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown
http://www.draiocht.ie/visual_arts

 

Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Desmond Kenny, Yvonne McGuinness,

Des Kenny talks to Michael McLoughlin Artist in Residence at Draiocht

October 8, 2017

Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny chats to Michael McLoughlin, Artist in Residence 2017 ...
  

Michael McLoughlin is the current Artist In Residence in Draiocht and will work in the Artist Studio on projects for a show in 2018. I paid a visit to the studio on a fine September morning as the odd fallen leaf, Autumn’s calling card, rustled across Draiocht’s entrance.  

I have known Michael for many years. We were fellow members of Pallas Studios, sharing studio space in old factories with twenty artists. At that time he had the smallest studio among Pallas members and due to lack of storage he would hang his sculptures from the girders of the roof. He managed to squeeze into his cramped space a fully equipped recording studio. Outside our studio on Foley Street was a stone crushing machine, pulverising rubble from condemned buildings. Michael recorded the crushing sound of the bricks going through the machine. He expanded one second of the recording into one minute’s duration. He replayed this for me and I was astounded to hear what appeared to be music not dissimilar to whale song. I was reminded of a verse in the Bible, which declared 'even the stones began to sing as Christ passed on his journey'.  Music is rooted untapped in all things and a poetic line in the Bible suddenly had relevance in the scientific reality of contemporary life.



Today sound predominates his practice and is utilised to explore visceral links that bind people to a place and how a community evolves within its environs. Littered around the studio lie the tools of his vocation, loops of electric cable, microphones, and amplifiers, speakers of various sizes, synthesizers and recording equipment. All are used to record, magnify or soften the acoustic language captured by the echo chamber of the ear. Softly playing in the background as we talked is a piece he made for the atrium of the Sutherland School of Law, UCD. He suspended large speakers with steel cable from the cascading space of the foyer ceiling. Visitors were greeted with the murmuring song of swifts emanating from speakers above their heads. These birds fly through Syria, Greece, Africa and the artist infers a connection with the current migratory crises of people in these regions.
In a show at Limerick City Gallery the artist hung various speakers from the ceiling with specially manufactured electric cable. A company fabricated two miles of electrical wire to the artist specifications. The electric cable, while acting as a conduit for electricity and load bearing attachment for the floating speakers, also conjured an aerial line drawing in the vaulted air of the gallery. In his view, not using readily available cheaper electric cable but having it manufactured instead to his design, enhanced the installation. Attention to detail has a financial cost that an artist accepts to allow their works achieve complete visual impact. Perhaps it can be over emphasized, the significance of seeing his sculptures stored in the rafters of Pallas Studios, that the artist recognised the possibility to rehabilitate the vacant  gallery roof space to hang his art. The chance requirements of necessity can become an influential keystone in an artist’s development.



It was a question I did not put to the artist. He did refer to the Kimmage project which changed his approach to making art all those years ago while still a member of Pallas Studios. It was called 'Ideal Homes' and he worked with the community, recording their words as they described their ideal home. The problem back then, as it is today for the artist, is to find solutions that prevent a community’s voice becoming distilled or manipulated to create a work of art.

His present undertaking involves working with the diverse community living in Mulhuddart and creating a project which Draiocht will showcase in 2018. Examining the effects the media and local government policy construe to formulate an image which does not reflect their personal experience. Scattered on a wall are sundry accounts from newspapers and policy documents which contextualise a narrative at variance with the communal life of Mulhuddart. Old and new maps of Mulhuddart trace the growth from a number of great houses to an urban sprawl where the historical names of the great houses now refer to housing estates. This wall of information will act as aid to anchor his thoughts to help create a work of art which will become a portrait of Mulhuddart.




Read more about Michael's work in Draiocht HERE ... 



Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.
 

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Michael McLoughlin,

Des Kenny Reviews Group Show, Curated by Aoife Dunne

July 26, 2017

28 July 2017 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews our First Floor Gallery Exhibition, Curated by Aoife Dunne, as part of Draíocht@Night ...

Aoife Dunne has drawn together a number of contemporary artists in the First Floor Gallery and curates a show which seeks to broaden the cultural narrative of concepts similar to her own practice. They are connected by a mutual interest in Manga comics, video games, fashion magazines and how our new virtual generation connects or disconnects with society.


Sadbh O’Brien
utilises collage as a creative tool to manipulate found imagery from fashion magazines and the internet, exploring topics on sexuality, feminism and the legacy of gender imbalance. Collage was used by Braque and Picasso to create visual puns in their engagement with cubism. It was further expanded to include political ideas and unlocking the dream worlds of the Dadaist and surrealists movements. Sadbh O’Brien follows in the footsteps of Hannah Hoch, Eileen Agar and Nancy Spero in employing collage as a medium to herald feminine politics and History. In Torn Colgate Smile With Apples,  a disjointed photographic lipstick smile rests between folded arms that touch coyly a pair of apples. Advertisers use the female body in all its guises to sell products like toothpaste that can guarantee a perfect smile, instil confidence and promoting the bewitching promise of romance. On another level the artist may be referencing Eve in the garden of paradise and gleefully celebrates her part in the fall of man. 

A laughing mouth with protruding tongue placed in the centre of a pleated skirt, greets the viewer daringly in Cunning Kowtow. Arms cocked in a sparring pose act as legs while on top of this strange body a leg protrudes ready to confront conformity. This sense of defiance is continued in Lollipop as a female figure lifts her skirt alluringly as a two fingered rebellious salute bulges starkly upon her shoulders. The sculpture Pseudo Science catches the viewer by surprise as they move away from the flat imagery of collage into the inanimate sculptural reality of three dimensions. The pieces of sheer plastic hang loosely like flayed skin on a silver clothes rail. The roughly sewn edges describe a human form and the head droops alarmingly like Munch’s famous painting of the scream. This work deliberates on the desperate craving to preserve youth and beauty through the illusion of plastic surgery.



Martina Menegon
’s video investigates the physical and psychological motivation that exists in trying to monitor and project a visual persona that is accepted by the self and society. The video screen reveals a young woman behind a veil staring anxiously at her limpid reflection. The face begins to distort beneath the veil while tremulous hands outside the guarded veil try to prevent the disfiguration. It becomes a redundant enterprise as other transformations take place away from the restraining hands, as her face shimmers beyond constraint into further contortions. The hopeless striving of the hands attempting to prevent the locomated distortion of the young woman’s veiled face declare an insurmountable expectation to create the perfect air brushed image that fashionable society will approve.



Ciaran Gallen
introduces the viewer to the iconic character filled world of Manga comics. Fantastical figures are caught in the maelstrom of an uncontrollable destiny. In a large painting called ‘Uzumaki Size’ a demon mask is surrounded by laughing and snarling creatures that appear to watch over oncoming doom with cartoonish relish and indifference. Blues, purples, green and orange swirl, clash and collide, increasing the tension across the painted surface as the mysterious melodrama unfolds.

In another work two large faces with enlarged blood shot eyes glare purposefully, trying to hypnotize the onlooker and introduce them into their horrifying pitiless underworld. Another painting reveals a decapitated figure surrounded by creatures who watch over the scene with unceremonious glee. The frantic mark-making across the paint surface mirrors the delirious situations contained in each painting. Using combinations of acrylics, ink, pastels, oil sticks and oil paint, the artist heightens the fervour across the painted ground and invokes the creative urgency of their production.



Kate O’Loughlin makes digital art for a virtual world. Data collected from the internet becomes the artist’s materials creating a visual context to explore and unearth subterranean pathways concealed from contemporary society. The prints contain a wide variety of recognisable symbols retaining alternative histories that the immediate visual experience fails to communicate. In both prints the brand logo Kappa appears denoting a certain branded lifestyle but Kappa, as a word, is also used on Twitch TV as a method of sarcasm and anti-globalisation rhetoric. A Greek urn and statue may hint at the Greek economic crises. The sandals in each print may refer to the incident in the Iraq war when President Bush had to dodge a sandal thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist at a press conference. Throwing sandals becomes a metaphor of defiance against the destructive acts of global super powers. The sandal may also pertain to the refugee crisis visited upon Greek shores. The artists titles of Slides do not advance any insights to the prints meaning, but leaves it open to the audience to disentangle the multitude of interpretations for themselves.





Evan Bech creates videos in rich psychedelic colours where purple Mohican figures distort and blend miraculously into a yellow background. These transformations appear logical as there are no limits or constraints imposed in this enchanted realm. Music reinforces the aimless unwinding storyline in the videos, capturing the viewer’s imagination with sight and sound. White bananas and exploding dynamite seem common place in a striped labyrinth that meanders purposively into an unending cartoon twilight zone. The videos have a hypnotic effect leaving the audience spellbound and when the video ends the retina feels momentarily caught on the iridescent wings of fantasy.


Group Show
FRI 7 JULY - SAT 26 AUGUST 2017 
First Floor Gallery, Draiocht Blanchardstown
http://www.draiocht.ie/visual_arts




Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Aoife Dunne, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny Reviews LIMITLESS by Aoife Dunne

July 21, 2017

21 July 2017 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews LIMITLESS by Aoife Dunne ...


In the breathless environment of computer graphics Aoife Dunne explores the suffocating restrictions unconsciously imposed by society on the youthful female psyche. The artist projects her own physicality with the aid of indistinguishable models upon the framework of a computer game to examine the blurred boundaries that exist between external and internal forces that promulgate gender imbalance.

Her short film is presented on a large screen surrounded by colourful objects in the gallery which correspond to the colouristic forms in the digital realm; virtual and actual reality echo one another. Sonic music and neon lights in the gallery help incorporate the viewers senses with the rhythmic pulse of the screens output. The artist employs various gaming technologies to create a virtual landscape allowing her characters space to perform and create a dialogue with the viewer.



In the introductory clip, a door opens revealing an urgent streamlined virtual platform where an inexhaustible voiceover demands the contestants to take their places, make this scene count while maintaining a great attitude. Only a positive mentality will achieve dazzling success to move on to the next level. A chorus line of blossoming girls all dressed alike with blue hair, clown like make up and pouting lips call out in fused unity for inclusion in the next measured phase of the contest. No doubt this scene reflects upon the thousands of young hopefuls queuing up outside stage doors waiting for selection on various television talent shows. Eventually two promising players are chosen to continue in the next pulsating instalment of the competition.





The intoxicating tone of the narrators become more demanding; imploring success is only attained with a good posture and be aware people are watching your every move while your mirror informs you what other people see. The performers reflect the needs of the unseen game show host; lose their individuality hoping to attain shimmering success. Warnings are flashed upon the screen that no exit is available once the contestant has entered; having signed up there is no escape from this virtual vortex.

The girls masquerade in uniformed garments, lifting pink barbells, perfecting postures with tight rope balancing poles and trying to pout alluringly. Against a flashing backdrop of swirling stripes and convulsing forms a male voice talks about the manufacturing of perfect dolls and how it is important that moving facial devices do not undermine the cuteness of the face. Stereotypical reinforcement of female performers within the theatrical game hints no doubt at societies need for a clichéd distinction between genders.

The video game ends with the contestant failing to meet the required standard and must try again. Beneath the surface of beautiful colours, oscillating forms and hypnotic music in this video, a narrative of subtle suppression that shapes the gender imbalance we accept in our daily lives.



On the opening night the artist added to the spectacle by engaging a troupe of young dancers to reel and weave through the pulsing crowd. Dressed in garments fashioned by the artist, wearing black masks and shrouded in silence they danced expressionless. Appearing like automatons controlled by an unseen choreographer, they restlessly weaved a whispered spell over the transported audience.





 

Limitless - Aoife Dunne
FRI 7 JULY - SAT 26 AUGUST 2017 
Ground Floor Gallery, Draiocht Blanchardstown

Read more about Aoife's show ... here ...
Watch LIMITLESS ... here ... 


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Aoife Dunne, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny talks to Andrew Carson Artist in Residence at Draiocht

July 7, 2015

07 July 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny chats to Andrew Carson ...  



Andrew Carson is the current Artist in Residence in Draiocht Blanchardstown, until December 2015.

Large unadorned glass windows reveal the inner sanctum of the Artist’s Studio to the passing public as they meander with restless intent through the clamorous bustle of a commercial shopping centre. The transparent shield of glass protects the studio from prevailing urgency of time speeding forward as shoppers obey the beckoning call of consumerism. Inside the studio time moves slower, snared by the artist’s reluctance to allow creativity become a porous commodity but a place where the imagination unfolds unbound in dream like intervals. Now and then a passerby smitten by curiosity will stop and look at the artist as he works and maybe walk away with an incomprehensible desire to reflect on the hubris of modern life. Andrew displays a video at night to create an audience for his practice when he is absent from the studio. The video contains people walking back and forth on a nameless street overlaid with words of a song. The words of the song surround and occupy the same space as the people in the video, not impeding their passage but allowing the world pass by in a stream of subliminal information.

We talk over the methodical whirr of a machine that is cutting paper to a design created by the artist. The paper is covered with a protective plastic film upon which a dark night sky is displayed. The odd star twinkles in the all consuming infinite darkness. The paper is then folded and a tetrahedron is constructed.  These objects are found hanging from the ceiling in various arrangements or are placed on a pedestal to form a pyramid structure. In one particular format they are suspended from the ceiling silhouetted against a black painted wall granting the illusion that they float unaided in space like a magicians trick. In another arrangement they hang like a mobile Calder-like sculpture which begins to twirl in a confined orbit after a gentle nudge from the artist. He tells me that the work is displayed in an experimental fashion and a final decision waits unuttered. The large studio space permits the artist room to gaze languidly inwards into the rarefied hinterland of the imagination and then glance into the distance of concrete reality and discover if an idea can satisfy both inner and outer realms. This is a luxury for the artist as he explains how he shared a space with a number of other artists and the constant demands to negotiate and accommodate the needs of each person’s artistic ambitions aggravates the calm required to produce art.

Fixed to a supporting pillar is a large sheet of binary notation. The artist explains that it is part of a coded message sent into space on a satellite searching for life in outer space. It is the artist’s intention to make a large version of this message and display it in some fashion in a future exhibition. The off cuts from this process are not discarded but find themselves stuck on the opposite side of the pillar and create a meandering line searching for a purpose.

On a makeshift table a cowled figurine like an unannounced dark prophecy stands starkly profiled against a white wall. Maybe it is a machete for a grand sculpture where a larger version will reveal the reason for its shrouded mystery. Beside the figurine is a bug eyed skull that appears to gaze humorously at life’s unfulfilled expectations. The skull knows our final destination and whether time moves slow or quick we are destined to meet in his breathless kingdom.

Some artists draw the blinds down while working in the Draiocht Studio, demanding privacy and excluding the outside world from interfering with the creative process. Andrew Carson allows the passing world look at him making art, fulfilling the vision of the buildings architect who thought the artist and the local community could engage openly. This discourse the architect believed would have a profound effect, enriching the lives of both parties.


Read more about Andrew ... here ...


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny,

 1 2 3 >  Last ›