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.

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

Des Kenny Reviews Expanding Spaces by Robert Kelly

October 10, 2016

10 October 2016 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews 'Expanding Spaces' by Robert Kelly ...
 

Abstraction has no other purpose but to be of itself, simultaneously distinctive and paradoxical. At times existing outside the tangled realm of words, inexplicably defying the desire of language to categorise it. The elusive quality of non-objective art appeals to many contemporary artists since it accommodates any strategy or theory while remaining ambiguous about any infallible final truth.  Robert Kelly’s show in Draiocht of abstract prints and drawings uses a number of elemental signs such as the triangle, square, circle and curved forms to explore the nature of pictorial space whilst indirectly referencing the subliminal space of the imagination.



On folded paper blue squares, green triangles and purple circles are run through the printing press but these rudimentary forms fragment as the paper is unfurled. The tension of this shuddering disruption across the paper surface reaches out to the viewer to reassemble the shapes in their mind. The graphic reality of the print exercises the viewer’s imagination to make connections and restore order to the splintered narrative of the imagery.



In another print presented on a square sheet of paper, circular forms are pulled asunder as the folded paper is restored to its original state. A great area of white paper disrupts the printed image like a crack appearing after the movement of tectonic plates across the earth. One blue circle moves from the printed surface into the compressed subterranean space of the indented white paper as if trying to manipulate the physical order of the composition before it disintegrates. By allowing chance dictate the outcome of the pictorial plane may imply that any measured principle of certainty we have is illusory.

A series of charcoal drawings display a calmer approach compared to the disruptive ideas pursued in the first five prints. These square drawings are folded in a manner which leaves horizontal, vertical and diagonal marks embedded in the paper. This underlying structure creates a scaffold upon which gentle curved marks find placement in an ordered construct. Mirrored images are formed when the paper is folded and put through the printing press creating symmetrical shapes that are balanced. The artist counters this informed symmetry created during the printing process by working over the paper with marks made in pastel that float above the uniform design. These intuitive marks made without the use of a printing press depend wholly upon the reflective touch of the artist hand and integrates the makers artistic personality more richly into the process.


The work called Entropy is made of sixteen prints on grey buff paper which combine to create a large square format where curved forms dance like musical notation. The repeated arabesques vary slightly on each page as if in a state of flux but moving towards dissolution. In The Wind of Change the notional marks are more strident and the diagonal creases lift the prints away from the wall. A symbolic turbulence ripples across the surface of the prints, where a reckoning wind will transform everything.



A large installation piece hangs from the ceiling, undulating like the serpentine form of a Chinese dragon. Seeming to catch the light and movement of the scurrying white clouds reflected in the large windows. Imprisoned, it yearns to take flight from the restraints of the gallery and let the tilting wind lift it up on silvery clouds. In folded sculpture square sheets of creased paper race upwards from the floor towards a vanishing point upon the gallery’s highest wall. A vertiginous sense of speed is felt as the square sheets reduce in size the higher the sculpture climbs up the stark white wall.

Robert Kelly is a restless printmaker who uses non-traditional printmaking techniques to excavate the hidden riches inherent in the medium.


Read more about Robert's show ... 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: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Robert Kelly,

Des Kenny Reviews Any Observer by Jason Deans

July 8, 2016

04 July 2016 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Jason Deans 'Any Observer' ... 

Decay and impermanence are part of the natural order of existence and calculating the rate of dissolution and comprehending the process can prevent disaster. In 2008 the economic system collapsed because it expanded beyond its stable structure and like a bubble growing too big to contain itself it burst. The fall out of this disaster in both political and social terms have not receded beyond an unseen horizon of forgotten history but remains layered within touching distance throughout society.

Jason Deans' exhibition in the Ground Floor Gallery in Draiocht endeavours to understand and invoke the reality of our economic collapse. The sculptural forms act like props on a stage where choreographed decomposition is performed with theatrical pathos.



Gathered in a corner a number of pillars of various sizes bound together by a common fate, teeter on the edge of collapse. They have no binding agent to guard against crumbling decay. Irrepressible gravity will tug on them remorselessly and they will disintegrate becoming a mound of lustreless sand. The triumphant pillars of society will fall shapelessly down into a shameless state of mortal loss, created by their own hubris.

This theme exploring the dissolution of the building industry, where poor regularity inspections were a common practice, is examined in the piece Poor Foundation. Small bricks constructed with sand and cement seems to cling with geometric certainty to a corner of the gallery. The broad base holding up the pyramid form stands passively static but recent history informs us that the use of pyrite as a foundation material has caused great cracks to materialise in buildings. Already a straight edge begins to curve as the bricks in this sculpture move incrementally out of alignment reflecting the reality of the valueless homes people possess with such structural damage.


A work called Comes Tumbling Down consists of roughly moulded slabs of clay removed from barren Nama construction sites. It appears strong and assured but surrounding its base are great clods of earth which have fallen from the structure. The form is unstable, eroding before the viewer and the piece becomes a meditation on the overreaching and dysfunctional thinking of a privileged few during the Celtic Tiger era.



A drawing of electrical pylons copied from engineering plans appears to plot a course of conviction against the tide of uncertainty which echoes the arrested fragile psychological mood of the nation. On closer inspection the drawings are made with chalk, an unstable substance, whereas it’s normal for ink to be utilised. There is also hesitancy in their execution; lines waver outside their edges and at times are drawn loosely by hand instead of using mechanical drawing instruments. There are no regulators to inspect accurate plans so why produce them to the definitive standard required. Based on these drawing two electrical pylons are fabricated with elder wood. This is a soft wood that grows like a weed on empty construction sites. It has no monetary value since it cannot be utilised for kindling or making furniture. One pylon is called Powerless which is symptomatic of how the country was defenceless and unprepared for the approaching economic meltdown.


Yet throughout this economic storm the ship of state remained afloat and mass unemployment was eased by emigration. This is alluded to in the piece called Wandering were a ship made from elder wood, canvas and tar is lifted up on a parody of waves constructed by Ryanair boarding passes. Although at times the shows formal narrative is bleak and sombre, it is by confronting the harm done to society that the possibility to create an environment where collective healing may occur and the nation can recover from the trauma inflicted by the financial crash. 

 

Read more about Jason's show ... 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: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Jason Deans,

Des Kenny Reviews Glimpse by Ruth McDonnell

March 4, 2016

04 March 2016 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Ruth McDonnell ... 



Glimpse is the current exhibition of paintings, prints and drawings by Ruth McDonnell in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery running until 07 May 2016.
The nostalgic longing to restore a decaying past before it recedes into the domain of the forgotten can cultivate ingratiating sentimental art forms that appear dysfunctional to the needs of contemporary society. The former cinemas that interest the artist are now carpet warehouses or part of apartment complexes. They perform a different function in today’s society and their former glory in the entertainment of the masses is now redundant.



Ruth McDonnell has avoided a maudlin sugar coated pitfall while exploring the loss of old cinema houses and the passing era of popular entertainment by paring down their representation to abstract elemental forms. This reduction does not eliminate the emotional attachment to this period but intensifies its poignancy. The facade of the Metropole cinema is whittled down to a basic rectangle form with a tentative triangle on top. This form in yellow ochre is held resolutely fringed by grey in the centre of a small wooden panel. Under-painting of red separates yellow and grey like a deterrent that delineates the paint surface. Descriptive reality competes with the formal abstract language of paint and this dual character concentrates the image with additional painterly tension within the cradled space of a rectangular panel. In the Stella Terenure a wider range of colour holds the image playfully, centre stage. Greens and pinks combine with shades of blue formulating a rich painterly surface. The building seems to emanate from a memory of a bright summer’s afternoon where happiness and time crystallised momentarily, sleepwalking past the rudeness of reality. Such moments become embedded in the human psyche where the inaudible search for happiness is measured.



The etching “Heres looking at you” recalls the famous line delivered by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 film Casablanca. The memorable words were said by Rick to Ilsa as she boarded a plane to leave Casablanca and these few words embedded their love story forever into celluloid and popular culture. The etching reveals a green curtain descending at the end of the film and a glimmer of the   silver screen still remains caught on the retina of a spellbound audience. The etching is a fluid rendition of a falling curtain. This is achieved by technique in printmaking called spit biting. Acid is applied to a copper plate with a brush, allowing a more painterly image adhere to the copper plate.



A similar technique is used in Once upon a time where a liquid red flows and spills beyond the linear structure of a recently vacated cinema seat. As if the thermal residue of emotional engagement with a film still remains long after a patron has left the cinema.

Various drawings tracing the contour of cinema roof tops silhouetted against the skyline explore the formal qualities of the art deco structures inherent in these buildings. The modulated forms haunt the suffocating night sky like echoes of past glories which are forgotten. They seem at times like snapshots of forlorn tombstones unvisited in a graveyard.



Another pervasive theme in these drawings is the circular spotlight shining on the cinema curtains. Dark vertiginous lines made with charcoal race vertically downwards over the paper, stopping sharply short of a white circle which emerges light filled from the blank page. It is a rudimentary exercise but these spare actions release understated abstract patterns that have a realistic interpretation. Chalk and gesso drawings create with simple gestures, vestigial images bordering the hinterland which exists between abstraction and realism. The edges of a white rectangle emerge from three broad strokes of black gesso while the papers clean margin contains the shape. Horizontal black conte marks stride across the lower part of the drawing. In the formal abstract language of modern art a rectangle and horizontal lines can stand aloof without further investigation but equally the same image is read as the silver screen in a cinema with rows of seats. The shifting ground of both viewpoints intensifies the rendered image and adds vitality to these works.

 

Read more about Ruth's show ... 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: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Ruth McDonnell,

Des Kenny talks to Jason Deans Artist in Residence at Draiocht

January 28, 2016

28 January - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny chats to Jason Deans ...  

Jason Deans is the new Artist in Residence in Draíocht for the next six months (January-June 2016).

The Artist Studio looks out onto the bustling shopping centre and the artist works behind a transparent wall of glass in full view of the passing shoppers. This open insight to how an artist works in their studio can prove to be a mutually beneficial experience for the artist and the public. The sense of isolation an artist’s life embraces dissipates as they communicate directly with society, bridging the gap of exclusivitythat contemporary art invokes within the general populace.



On the glass windows Jason gives a mission statement declaring his intention to make art that explores the evolution of the Irish state from 1916 to the present day. Drawings depicting Irish volunteers defending positions behind makeshift barricades in the 1916 Rebellion hang on the window, instantly catching the eye of passing shoppers. Reminding all unequivocally, that this was how the Irish state emerged. The artist has begun a dialogue and a fugitive relationship with a transitory audience that he hopes may evoke questions about our nations struggling birth and today’s national identity.



On entering the studio the scent of elder tree sap clings to the air. Branches of the elder tree are scattered across the studio floor and are the base material for various sculptures the artist is working on. He explains the wood from the elder tree has no practical utilitarian purpose, too soft to make furniture and useless to burn as firewood. The material was in plentiful supply in his garden so he decided to make sculptures with it. Transforming a base material into art, recalls alchemists attempt to convert lead into gold. The artist becomes an alchemist seeing the potential hidden in a worthless substance, transporting its arrested possibility into something that has relevance.

Standing resolutely in a corner is the ribbed structure of an electric pylon made from elder branches. The struts tied with string hold the structure together but lack the strength to hold electric pylons. Artifice and practicality are not, of necessity, realistic companions but if a medium is transmuted beyond its natural reference into an object granted meaning by the artist, it becomes a work of art and it cannot be judged by its lack of functionality. The artist explains how research is part of his artistic practice and he got the plans for these pylons from the ESB. We also spoke about the ephemeral nature of his work and the inevitable lack of commercial prospects for these works. Who will buy a work which will disintegrate over a short time? It’s a problem the artist accepts if he wishes to make art which is pertinent to his art practice and convey his ideas without constraints of commercial demands.




My attention was caught by a series of photographs of sand pillars in an exhibition space. The artist explained it was a piece he entered in the Tulca show in Galway. It consisted of a number of pillars made from sand without any coagulant to hold the sand together - naturally the pillars deteriorated and collapsed over the duration of the exhibition. Installation of the piece proved hazardous as each pillar needed to be constructed away from the exhibition area since the vibration in their construction would cause all the other pillars to fall. Of course there is a connection to the property bubble and the collapse of the property market which disastrously afflicted the Irish economy. Artistic and economic reality can mirror each other as he recalled how during his MA show in 2009 he tried to fashion the Central Bank in sand and how the construction was impossible as it constantly crumbled and fell apart. There is an element of performance in his work and the choreographed dissolution of a piece over time can resemble the gestures and movement of actors on a stage.

The skeleton of a currach made from elder branches is taking shape in the centre of the Studio. The Currach has a distinctly Irish identity in visual culture and artists like Jack Yeats, Paul Henry and Dorothy Cross have used it as a symbol to explore Irish consciousness. While understanding the Currachs visual history, Jason wishes to find a new way to define its Irish heritage in contemporary society. As I left Draíocht I noticed the blinds in the Studio were drawn, no doubt indicating the artist had left. The Studio becomes a theatre and the artist performs daily for those with a curious eye ...

 

Read more about Jason on his website ... 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: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Jason Deans,

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