Des Kenny Reviews Martina O’Brien - Continuum

October 14, 2015

13 October 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Martina O'Brien ...  



Martina O Brien’s multi-layered exhibition resonates with humanities need to understand, predict and control the earth’s climate throughout the ages. On a small pedestal stands an urn filled with sage sticks. These were lit by ancient tribes to commune with spirits of the breathing air. Nowadays sage sticks are used in yoga classes without a direct reference to the spirits. These reliquaries of the past and the rites of ancient people no longer have a foothold in modern consciousness. In the main window of Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery stands a small Child of Prague Statue. These were frequently found in farming homes and placed outside to call for rain or imploring God to intercede and prevent damage to crops from heavy rains. The child of Prague is replaced today in homes by a white porcelain figure of a woman which is displayed in front windows. The weather forecast beamed by satellite into every home does away with the need for Gods intercession since understanding the scientific character of the weather removes the Godhead from the equation and anyway, satellite images beamed into our television of the weather have yet to reveal the invisible spirits of our ancestors.




The video piece Provision explores the ideas proposed by the scientist James Lovelock. He believed the whole planet is a living organism and called this entity Gaia. This theory granted a certain relevance to the beliefs of our ancestors who instinctively understood the connection between inanimate objects and living matter on this planet. Lovelock created, with the aid of a simple computer model, a fantasy world, where white and black flowers controlled the median temperature of the planet. When too much heat energy arrived from a sun the planet grew white flowers to reflect the excessive heat and black daisies grew when the heat needed to be absorbed. Lovelock maintained this simple computer model had a parallel connection to how our planet works. The artist’s video commences with a red screen. Black and white dots suddenly fill the wall, representing Lovelock’s theory of black and white daisies proliferating as required by his fantasy planet. Next an image of clouds towering the heights of a blue sky is combined with small creatures living in a pond. Wild inanimate existence and prolific quivering organic life have a direct dependence upon each other. Representations of decaying industrial structures with reflective images entangled in stagnant water may indicate the destructive nature of humanities persistent enterprise upon the natural world. Dying white flowers adjacent to an image of the world’s tempestuous winds twisting across the earth, bring into focus how climate change will bring rapid disaster to the whole planet. One nice addition to this video is a sequence of sixty seconds winding down to zero before the video restarts. This is a helpful note to the viewer, marking were the video sequence commences but also a chilling reminder that time is ebbing away, engendering the chilling feeling it is too late to redress the earth’s traumatic climate change. The clock is ticking downwards to a terrible fate, since we have sacrificed our natural inheritance for economic growth.



Drawings on paper are made with the use of thread and correspond to the threaded works attached to nails, fixed to the walls. These drawings form groups of three and indicate a fable which remains difficult to decipher. In the first grouping a pyramid displays its interior structure as if made from glass, the next drawing displays a vector design and the third shows a giant tearing down the pillars of Valhalla. Perhaps signifying the destruction of the old gods as monotheistic religions took the centre stage in the human psyche. The resulting change allowed humanity freedom to construct the world to a personnel vision without interference from the demi - gods of an inanimate world and an absentee godhead. The other drawing series is much more mysterious and enigmatic. A prophetic angel with a flaming sword hovers above three cowering figures, no doubt threatening punishment if not obeyed. The next drawing is a complex structure that seems impossibly to move inward and outward and yet remain in the same visual plane. While the next drawing appears to depict a bacterial form, bursting from the confines of its natural habitat. Perhaps a reference to an air carrying pathogen freed from the jungle by intensive colonisation. Yet trying to discern links between these drawings appears illusive, yet strangely this quality adds to their appeal.



The large paintings composed of black inks, markers and pens stand out starkly against the white background of the canvas. In one painting white flowers lift their heads upwards towards a benevolent sun. The flowers seem to reference the white flowers of James Lovelock’s imagined world. If we could allow the natural world to heal we might not face the disastrous changes about to befall our planet. The other paintings depict an elaborate realm where it’s difficult to discern if the fauna is diseased or thriving. An ambiguity that is disconcerting but perhaps we cannot tell the difference anymore.

This is a complex show on many levels and would reward a number of visits to understand the manifold interpretations that lie within this artist’s vision.

Read more about Martina'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, Martina O'Brien,

Des Kenny Reviews Andrew Carson - Pilgrim

October 5, 2015

05 October 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Andrew Carson ...  

As you look down at the careful placement of your feet on each step of the spiral staircase leading to the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht, there is a slight feeling of vertigo as you are demanded to look suddenly upwards on the final step. At this juncture, black geodesic globes suspended from the ceiling immediately greet your eye and flow in a gentle curve towards the centre of the exhibition space. Ahead of this stream of geodesic spheres is a lone golden globe which appears to pull all the others in its wake.



The gallery space is carved out to lead the spectator inwards on a theatrical journey to explore the sublime vastness of the heavens. Distances of outer space are so vast; it can overwhelm the finite mind so the artist reduces whole universes to a globe that can be held in your hand. These geodesic spheres are covered in shimmering stars that light up the dark fabric of space.



At the far end of the gallery twelve black opaque panels stand erect like sentinels. These dark panels appear unrevealing until close examination unveils delicate lines of notation representing the binary code. They emit an opalescent sheen which separates the mathematical symbols from the dull surface of the panels. The message appears camouflaged in mystery awaiting a key to unlock its meaning.

The panels are a physical representation of a radio wave missive transmitted from a radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 1974. The transmission took three minutes to broadcast into the night sky. The radio telescope was pointed at M13, a mass of stars in the great cluster of Hercules. The system contains 300,000 stars with probably an equal number of planets. The scientific community with the aid of radio waves wished to contact alien life that may exist on these worlds. The binary system used by the scientists is an easy language to interpret. The numerals, equate to black and white squares, were 1 forms a black square and zero creates a white square. When decoded a simple pictorial image is formed, showing the image of man, the DNA helix and the position of earth and corresponding planets orbiting our sun. To this day the message remains unanswered, the night skies glistening constellations respond with the unending echo of silence.



While navigating the gallery space absorbing the functionality of the artists process, an underlying meaning is formed around the work. A subtext that does not overpower the visual reality of the show but allows the viewer unearth the moral quietly. It’s a realisation that the act of searching is more important than discovery. The subterranean impulses carrying humanity beyond a limited vision that contains creativity and outward to a limitless horizon were the imagination is unbound, define a culture. In the gloomy silence of empty space the lonely pilgrim searches undaunted with hope as a guide. 

 

Read more about Andrew'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, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny Reviews Marc Guinan - ‘What is Painting?...’

August 4, 2015

31 July 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Marc Guinan ...  

Marc Guinan's minimalist paintings delineate the walls of Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery with sustained colourful rhythms and material presence. They follow the minimalist doctrine propounded by New York artists in the 1960’s which declared the use of simple geometric forms, a monochromatic palette and the use of industrial materials presented unadorned in their primitive state. The basic substance of these paintings is manufactured by pouring acrylic paint over glass or acetate and when dry it is peeled away, cut and placed over a stretcher. An infinite variety of presentation is created by tilting the stretcher at various angles, allowing folds ebb and flow unceremoniously over the gallery walls. They become less mechanical structures that have a closed perceptual engagement but grow into an open organic composition that flickers outward into the connected space of a painting and receptive eyes.



The painting called Cream allows the folds of material cascade downwards like the sheets of clothing carved into white marble by renaissance and baroque sculptors. This allusion to art history and the creation of a metaphorical reference for minimalist painting appears to deviate from the aesthetic context of the New York school but it does allow a broader uninhibited interpretation of these works and enriches the visual experience. Indeed in Blue Black, the shadow cast by the work appears to create a bat like image on the gallery wall, of course an unintended result of gallery lights falling on the painting. Can this Blue Black painting be an observation of the night sky with a shadow of a bat reinforcing this analysis? These paintings become a battleground between personnel observation and an art historical framework which at times are unable to couple a truce between these conflicting arguments. This argumentative tension does not overwhelm these works but adds another dimension to their sculptural presence.



In Yellow Purple this conflict is less pronounced and does not obscure the materiality of its fabrication with its visual realisation by the viewer. A flat meditive yellow rectangle tilted off centre is disrupted by a rippling flap of purple. The combative nature of complimentary colours increases the tension in the piece as both colours vie for supremacy. The sedate yellow does not allow the strident purple to dominate the composition but the serenity intensifies as the colourful interference by the reflective yellow deepens.

Both sides of the plastic material which make these paintings expand outwards in an architectural sweep on the gallery walls and at the same time an inverse momentum returns the fabric to the centre. In  Green Red this theme is explored fully as the plastic material in a triangular form points with certainty at the green centre as a secondary red triangle emerges and reinforces this motion inwards. The right hand side ripples away and loops back like the drop curtain on a stage. Yet behind all these urgent sweeping shapes flapping like a sail in the wind there is a focused stillness tautly holding the straining composition together. Movement, calm and complimentary colours combine to ratchet up our visual awareness as the flowering forms unfold on the gallery walls.



There are a number of small square canvases which explore and move away from the self imposed restrictive palette of the larger paintings. A greater number of colour combinations inventively activate the surface of these works. A silver canvas has an orange centre surrounded by a black and white square with a piece of green strip pushing beyond the canvas surface. In other canvases thin strips of material twist and twirl on the picture plain, goading colours to escape their monotone backgrounds. In these small works the artist appears to strive beyond the doubtless weathered parameters of minimalism towards a more inclusive personnel vision.


Read more about Marc'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, Marc Guinan,

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.

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

Des Kenny Reviews Helen MacMahon - Profero

May 18, 2015

18 May 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Helen MacMahon - Profero…



Art and science find common ground in Helen Mac Mahon’s show in the First Floor Gallery of Draíocht. These two divergent disciplines combine to form a dialogue which illuminates their parallel search for truth and beauty. The placement of the art works in the gallery seems to follow a hidden mathematical theorem for defining exhibition space. An ordered harmony of coherent intervals places each work exactly where it is required to satisfy a luminous eye.



Radii is placed on a slender white pedestal in a corner of the gallery. A square mirror painted in a medative black reveals a silver star in the heart of the equitable form. The black absorbs light while the silver mirror reflects light causing a shimmering tension on the surface and a sense of movement appears to occur as the viewer circulates the form. The act of looking transforms the indolent object into a twinkling illusion.

On the wall are four images created with the aid of heat cast by a variety of different light bulbs upon a heat sensitive material. The light source is on a timer which comes on and off in fifteen minutes cycles. Notional forms appear on the heated surfaces and fade like a spectrical entity when the surface cools. Steely blues and purples gather in the centre while emerald greens and toxic oranges flare out towards the edges. Pulsating cycles of presence and absence articulate these works with the parallel patterns of life and death that is part of life’s convulsive existence.



A sculptural arrangement of metal slinkies holds center stage on the gallery floor. The slinkies appear to float upon the white parapet and there surface ripples with illusory movement. A wave like pattern rolls across the undulating surface as the observer approaches the installation. The false sense of motion is triggered by the moving spectator. Our formulation of reality depends on retinal information that unfortunately provides false data to the brain. The perception of the world formulated by our glaring eyes is untrustworthy and doubt begins to gather on the abundant shores of reason.


Placed in a gentle curve are four Magnographs, beautifully crafted devices which display the effects of magnetic energy upon a receptive film. The inner workings of the device are displayed which of course raises the natural curiosity level of a visitor. The lid of the apparatus is tilted forward revealing a mirror showing the inverted image of magnetic material placed on the underside of the display surface. The bowels of the mechanism are exposed to inquisitive investigation awakening a beckoning call that lays deep within the human psyche, a desire for knowledge. The inclination to understand the unknown lifts a species beyond the control of its environment to controlling its habitat. The exquisite pleasure derived from comprehending the concept of these mechanisms is perhaps uniquely human.



While black is the predominant colour for the objects in this exhibition allowing light to focus on the viewing surfaces this technique is absent when looking at a group of digital photographs examining the luminous property of light. The white gallery walls surround the gleaming images with bordered neutrality, transporting the inner light of the photographs to flutter towards the visitors receptive eyes. Silver spectral shapes emerge from gloomy depths and float eloquently like snowflakes unwinding in the air. Circular shapes materialise from an ethereal blue as phosphorescent oranges and yellows simmer in the darkness.

All in all science and art collaborate on equal terms to present an engaging show from the thoughtful vision of Helen Mac Mahon. 
 

Draíocht's Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.


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, Helen MacMahon,

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