Des Kenny Reviews Bernie Masterson - Weather

October 2, 2014

26 September 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Bernie Masterson, 'Weather'.

Bernie Masterson’s exhibition in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery explores the forever changing weather of the Irish landscape. Its moods and unpredictable character are portrayed in fragmented but lyrical moments. The artist edits from a flurry of constant movement an instant which charges the scene with poetic meaning rather than a factual interpretation.


Storm Surge


Storm Surge the largest work in the show describes massive unforgiving waves cascading towards shore, so large they engulf the sky. The rampaging swell pushed by accelerating winds tear white spume from the waves that flays the air like spikes on a railing. Swirling expressive brushstrokes through wet paint convey the wave’s virulent energy more convincingly than a factual rendition. The destructive force of such waves destroyed harbours and engulfed farmland on the west coast in the recent past.



Squall Line

On the adjacent wall Squall Line reveals an inclement dark mass of sky pushing on the shuddering green land that occupies the bottom third of the painting. The oppressive bulk of the oncoming tempest flattens the bewildered horizon to an indeterminate dissolving presence. The rough furrowed green earth locked in silence absorbs the storms wounding energy. In Low Cloud the numb brown earth is gradually released from the skies watery grip and breathless, waits for a vagrant sun to dry and rejuvenate the land.

Ash Cloud's dominant blackness seeps downward, saturating white clouds with choking dust from an erupting volcano. Such a cloud suffused with glass like sand, grounded planes throughout Europe. Earthbound we ranted against authorities who inconveniently took away our freedom of the heavens. The power of nature dissipates man’s privileges with indifference and reminds us of our inconsequential smallness. No dust particles assail the rich blueness in the painting Clear Day. Cerulean blue fills the sky and is mirrored in equal measure by a reflective sea. Air and water momentarily fused in a transient marriage of elements. The horizon line disappears and an island floats between heaven and sea in a timeless blue veil.



Flood Fields

A chilly still whiteness fills the picture plane as flooded arable land is depicted, submerged by water in Flood Fields. Patches of green fight for air before drowning, overwhelmed by rising waters caused by torrential rain. These flooded fields may be the effect of climate change but Masterson remains silent on the subject and captures its calamitous consequence with an analytical eye.



Creeping Fog

In Creeping Fog, a white mist races eerily across the land capturing unwary walkers in its enveloping silver shroud and suddenly without warning they become disorientated and lost. Forlorn like a sleepwalker caught in a trance, a traveller must hope the unbound blindness lifts and their pathway is illuminated once again.



Evening Sky

Evening Sky 
denotes a land at last becalmed and free from the turmoil of constant inclement weather. A setting sun swathed in white yellow shimmers in calm repose as silhouetted trees dissolve in a golden haze. The upper atmosphere turns mauve with shades of subdued blue and the frail air is suspended in serene detachment. We need ephemeral moments like these to reinvigorate stillness, sourced at the cradle of our existence. Paintings like this act as a gateway to help enshrine this tranquil state.


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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Bernie Masterson, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny Reviews Jim Cathcart

February 28, 2014

17 February 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Jim Cathcart ...

Jim Cathcart
Friday 14 February - Saturday 19 April 2014 
GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES
‘Them that work the hardest …’ - Ground Floor Gallery
'Selected Works on Paper' - First Floor Gallery
Read more … here 




The desire for an earthly paradise is found in cultural echoes of human mythology, embedded in stories like the Garden of Eden, Tir na nOg and the lost world of Atlantis. These fabled worlds permitted mankind to live free and fulfil all human expectations in a spirit of joy. The inclination to construct a society where humanity overcomes its limitations and lives in peace and harmony is still ingrained in human psych even if these attempts have generally proved disastrous.


Jim Cathcart’s large banner murals hanker for a paradise where the citizen is free to live, in balance with nature and in refined fellowship with each other. In one mural a man is about to place a toy boat in a river; by his right hand side people work the land gathering bountiful crops and to his left is an image of hands working in solidarity on industrial products which free all from a fate of drudgery granting free time to play. He places his toy boat into waters free of turbulence knowing this act of playfulness is his euphoric reward for a belief in an ideal society.

In another mural, the dual natures  of man, light and dark, good and evil no longer do battle for mans soul but these disparate facets combine in accord, to benefit all. In another image a man holds up a page to the light of a full silver moon where perhaps are written the sacred credo of quintessential laws which will hold a faultless society together. He stands assured by mystical moon light, proof reading the new constitution which will govern all and become the salvation of mankind. Yet there lies a flaw in this earthly heaven, a deceit, where for the greater good anything which would undermine society is instinctively silenced.


A mural divided into four sections, seems to depict an industrial accident, a man wears a gas mask for protection, an industrial glove cannot prevent the poison escaping causing damage to the genetic structure of living organisms. In the painting a woman’s mouth is bound and prevented from speaking about the unsafe practices which led to the disaster. Yet overall these works have an optimistic atmosphere portraying an expectation that alternatives to our current political systems are possible but first we must dream of their existence before reality welcomes their arrival.

Six paintings of wandering musicians hang together, rendered in mooted tones that weave a spell of tranquillity. They appear to be enveloped in that cusp of silence before sound announces its presence. In the provenance of their stillness they listen to that internal rhythm which populates the heart and from this primal source, create music.




Arrayed on the walls upstairs in Draiocht’s First Floor Gallery are Jim Cathcart’s graphic works. They include limited edition prints, watercolours and gouache on paper. In three images a large pyramid shaped rock breeches the surface of the sea. At one moment it appears to float above the sea as its base is obscured by mist and in another the summit is covered by storm clouds as a tumultuous seas rage against its indomitable cliffs. It stands immutable as if awaiting the arrival of Noah’s ark. In still lifes that bear striking resemblance to the rock pictures the artist has perched on the top a pebble and a shell. The symmetrical still life seeks to explore the precarious tight rope balancing act of nature’s structures which can descend into chaos with interference from human contact

Various pastel drawings of pebbles, shaped by pounding waves harbour the passing mystery of time. Clocks without dials measuring time from the earth’s beginning pose for the artists finite eyes. Hooded crows and pigeons are scrutinised by the artist. A pigeon in ‘40 miles from Malaga’ holds the air with certainty as it finds a way home with doubtless conviction while a hooded crow stares with laconic intelligence at the viewer. A pastel drawing of a leaf on the verge of decomposition covered in dark blemishes hints at the unthinkable demise of the self for lives like leaves have their season.
 

Jim Cathcart
Friday 14 February - Saturday 19 April 2014 
GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES
‘Them that work the hardest …’ - Ground Floor Gallery
'Selected Works on Paper' - First Floor Gallery
Read more … here 

Video Archive ... here ... and 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.


 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Jim Cathcart,

Des Kenny Reviews Katie O’Neill - Eternal Light

December 11, 2013

Eternal Light
A solo exhibition by Katie O'Neill - Amharc Fhine Gall IX - Curated by Noelle Collins
FRI 06 DEC 2013 - SAT 01 FEB 2014
FIRST FLOOR GALLERY




Amharc Fhine Gall showcases the work of recent visual art graduates who reside in County Fingal, granting them their first solo show. The arts department in County Fingal have raised the profile of this event in the contemporary art sphere by engaging and working with the curator Noelle Collins. The curator embarked on the unenviable task in choosing from a shortlist of artists, before deciding who to select for the exhibition. Meeting and talking to artists in their studio while enjoyable is fraught with tension when career making decisions are involved. Sensitivity with young artists on these occasions is paramount and granting insights where further opportunities with other art institutions for their work can mitigate the feeling of exclusion, if unselected.  Out of this selection process Katie O Neill was chosen to have a solo exhibition in Draíocht. The curator and artist become involved in a mutual discourse on how to unearth the rich possibilities in presenting the artists work in the gallery space. The investment of time and understanding creates an affinity between both parties and this can establish a beneficial relationship long after the show has concluded.


Curator Noelle Collins & Artist Katie O'Neill


Katie O Neill’s photographic perception on the surface appears innocuous as her images emerge serene in calm suffused light. Yet there is an underlying fearful narrative in these scenes, disrupting their tranquil exterior finish. In “Wake Up“ a grey concrete wall is inscribed with black writing admonishing us to wake up and beneath this in gaudy pink, is the proclamation,”we are damned”. We are confronted with a message that warns us of foreboding events but too late the prophecy went unheeded and all perished. The artist becomes an oracle searching for signs and portents of disaster that go unnoticed, trying to interpret their potential significance.



In the photograph “Power Lines” a golden light shimmers ominously on a grass verge in a breathless landscape. The aftermath of a visitation, foretelling a calamity beyond understanding. This layering of unease permeates throughout the show. At times reading like stills from a horror film, introducing the viewer to an indescribable dread waiting to unfold.



The artist maintains the suspense by not revealing the origins or the rationale behind the white vapours impeding access to the image in “Smoke”. In the absence of concrete facts the imagination fills the whiteout imagery with smothering fears that impinge reason. Works that appear as a casual snapshot retain an aura of the unknown. “Silentscape” reveals a landscape of grey sky pressing down on brooding trees and static green grass where sound abandons nature and paranoia gains a foothold.

In the centre of the gallery space two tables hold three glass cases each containing six Polaroid photographs. This form of photography does not lend itself to manipulation by photo-shopping on a computer. Its immediate response to the artist’s desires opens a path to more personal explorations. In one container a photo of plastic bag with the caption of the Beatles song “Help” lies against the bare branches of a bush. Photographs of a bleached white building, a waste ground harbouring empty alcohol bottles lay beside an image of the blurred head of a young woman. Shedding light on the dark sub stratum of a private history draws attention to the vulnerability of individuals seeking a purpose when all is meaningless. In another glass case two photos of the same person face each other and stare with searing eyes into the void of the self, surrounded by photos of walls, high rise buildings and graffiti denoting an “open city”. The personality dissolves into the white noise of the city and spinning thoughts cannot overcome exterior impediments on the journey towards self discovery .Nevertheless the artist stumbles forward, lost, infatuated by existence with flared nerve endings exposed to fate, for art’s sake.

Fingal’s Art Department can take pride in helping create this exhibition but the borders of county Fingal will not contain the raw and challenging talent of Katie O Neill.


Eternal Light
A solo exhibition by Katie O'Neill - Amharc Fhine Gall IX - Curated by Noelle Collins
FRI 06 DEC 2013 - SAT 01 FEB 2014
FIRST FLOOR GALLERY

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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Katie O'Neill,

Des Kenny Reviews Mary Burke - Memory Traces

November 27, 2013

22 November 2013

Mary Burke - Memory Traces
23 November 2013 – 01 February 2014
GROUND FLOOR GALLERY
Read more … here 



Memories reassemble realities glaring facts to accommodate obsessive feelings associated with places we inhabit. These feelings may not help form a greater holistic perspective but tend to fragment our recollections into parts that collectively do not add up. Mary Burke’s show in Draíocht examines the fragmentation of reality by memory. Paintings are divided into sections; each segment depicts a different aspect of both interior and exterior dwellings. They create a jigsaw pattern which a viewer assembles to fit an emotional template accumulated in the blind storehouses of the mind. This thought process connects the viewer and artist as they jointly share the same passionate space.




The first three paintings encountered in the gallery depict a suburban home. Where we have dwelt in formative years has a profound effect on our psychological makeup. No doubt in later life the artist has discovered that disjointed memories collaged together creates intense emotions that realistic facts lack.



In “Descend”, the painting is cropped in four images, revealing a staircase, an open door, a section of stained glass and another view of an open door. There is a melancholic sense of loss as home ties are disconnected, a rupture that confines the interior scene to the shaping past whilst the ecstatic promise of the future calls beyond the beckoning open door. The doorway is a threshold that must be passed, leaving behind the safe haven of home towards an uncertain fate fashioned by personal destiny.

In “ Flashback” we are shown different interior details of the same home and the title hints at its meaning. A memory may resurface unexpectedly, recalled by a scent, a sound or memorabilia and its sudden re-emergence can unbalance the controlled trajectory of our life. We search for significance to the dramatic outpouring of imagery released from our mind and on finding none we feel unhinged.

The painting titled “Recall” examines the exterior of the house as if access is denied because the family home is under new ownership. A lawful barrier excludes entry to that welcoming touchstone of fading memories we call home.

School days are resurrected in “Alma Matter 1 & 2 “. Long corridors are angled abruptly to staircases travelling to depths and heights in a claustrophobic maze which turns upon itself, devouring wisdom. Teenage rebellion is held in check by rules and polished floors. Reflective sunlight on blank walls silently reminds that liberty waits patiently outside.



“Labyrinth” is a title of one painting and it is the most abstract work in the show. Difficult to interpret because splintered into so many parts, it’s decoding is problematic. Checkerboard images revealing parts of walls, windows and floors offer no clues to the anonymous building or the connection to the artist. Modern buildings seem to discourage personal attachments.



The painting called “Equilibrium” depicts a modern dwelling adjacent to an image of a suburban home while the lower sections show a modern interior beside a cultivated garden anchored by two large boulders. A building that one can occupy which evokes harmony secluded from turbulent reality is a basic desire. A place were reflective past and golden future orbit around the momentary present is called home. As the artist has revealed the buildings she has inhabited from parental home, through schools and places of work she has come full circle, found a dwelling she calls her own and the foundation of this abode is the imagination where all artists reside.


Mary Burke - Memory Traces
23 November 2013 – 01 February 2014
GROUND FLOOR GALLERY
Read more … 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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Mary Burke,

Des Kenny talks to Kathy Herbert, Artist in Residence at Draíocht

November 19, 2013

18 November 2013

Kathy Herbert is the current Artist in Residence and has use of the Draíocht’s Artist Studio for six months. Kathy’s practice entails mapping, cataloguing and documenting her encounters with the natural environment in the immediate vicinity of Draíocht. Festooned around the studio walls are large and small drawings, all jostling for attention. Two tables are integrated to form a large work top, strewn with painting materials and pieces of cut paper, awaiting the artist’s creative intervention. Against a pillar, inert rocks and a feather repose, reluctant to reveal their secret. Thin wire sculpture of animated insects, populate the far side of the pillar, clumped together, craving freedom. On a table secluded in a corner lies a dormant laptop and open notebooks denote where sparkling scribbled conversations have found a home. The centre of the large studio is uncluttered, allowing measured access to all the projects on the studios periphery. Objects that occupy the edge of an artist’s vision blur and form unintended structures which can enliven an artist’s imagination. The mysterious pulse of the creative act is energised by the studios orientation and every artist’s format is different.



In a series of drawings, insects and birds are captured in an intense calligraphic urgency of mark making. Movement through space is granted superiority over descriptive form. Spectral crows tangle the croaking air with serrated wings, a bulbous bee hovers hesitantly and clustered long legged insects gyrate in an aerial dance. While making these drawings, the artist would engage with people out shopping and record in notebooks what was said to her. People will ask”what are you doing”, “is it finished yet” and “do you make money”. This discourse finds its way into her work. Drawings of denuded trees, accept these words in place of displaced leaves, language replacing the rustling sound of nature. We laugh together at the phrase “do you make money”. We share in the belief that art and its practice cannot find true value in comparison with monetary evaluation. Truth and beauty are the standards artists use to define their work and these commodities are not noted on the stock exchange. They are found in the priceless heritage of dreams which bind a people.



Our shared laughter eases the tension as the artist displays and talks about her practice. It’s difficult to expose works, unfinished to the critical eye. A misguided remark may destroy the embryonic development of a work of art. Our mutual passion for art overcomes the tense atmosphere that exists between artist and critic. This permits a deeper review of her project charting natural occurrences surrounding Draíocht. She photographs fallen leaves and numbers their position with chalk.


At times only a stain marks its fall, a ghostly semblance of natures passing. She bears witness to the forgotten lament of fallen leaves resurging essence lost on unforgiving tarmac. Recording these small natural events amidst the ravenous consuming bustle of a shopping centre may appear ludicrous to some, yet the artist insists these revelatory experiences of nature, open up that silent centre in our humanity where calm and peace abide.


The pursuit of consumerism inhibits quiet reflection. There is a map of the shopping centre were the artist traces her movements on daily forays into the natural environs around Draíocht. As a sculptor, she’s interested in how urban space controls our lives and confines our reaction to nature. In a previous project of drawings, she displayed GPS co-ordinates of trees and using this information, the street location of each tree was established. The artist becomes a pathfinder, leading the way over old ground, showing how to see it anew.

The artist has displayed drawings of swirling leaves in the studio windows for the observance of passing shoppers. As I pass, pausing to wonder uncertainly if leaves have dreams, I’m assured natures streaming consciousness has found a champion in the dreaming hands of Kathy Herbert.





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.

 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Kathy Herbert,

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