Des Kenny talks to Michael McLoughlin Artist in Residence at Draiocht

October 11, 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.
 

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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.

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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.

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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,

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