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,

Des Kenny Reviews Sally-Anne Kelly - upon becoming aware of our Self

May 18, 2015

18 May 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Sally-Anne Kelly ‘upon becoming aware of our Self’ …

Sally-Anne Kelly’s photographs and ceramic sculptures occupy the hushed quiet of the Ground Floor Gallery in Draíocht. The artist employs various mould making techniques to create a likeness of a person which is cast in clay to form ceramic sculptures. The eyes of the cast figures are closed, frozen in a sleep of forgetfulness. The calm of the gallery is stirred by rippling anxiety that maybe these closed retinal sockets might open and plead for your attention and help. Sorrowful eyes that corner your guilt and demand you to share unrequited suffering. The eyes impervious to the outside world remain shut but gaze inwards towards the featureless land of the forsaken.



The artist places these sculptures in shallow tide pools and photographs the somnambulant figures. Every person has different identities we project for the variety of public and personal situations that consume our time. The urgent need to project new identities of ourselves with social media has fragmented our calm private life into the straying reality of the glittering advertising sphere. The shape shifting desire to occupy a raptured dream persona overcomes the reticent self that remain content in the dull cloaked world of everyday existence. The new persona discards the old and they collect like empty mollusc shells on the sea shore. In one photograph a black coloured mask sinks slowly into the sand of a tidal pool. Drifting sand swirls upwards as if the last breath has exhaled in an unfulfilled sigh. This dark solemn face does not belong to the brightly coloured happy faced Selfies that are part of new media’s throbbing attraction. Undesired, the dark mask will sink into the quickening sands of the abandoned. In another photograph a face slowly turns on its side in weary resignation meeting the incoming tide like a derelict caught on clinging rocks, unable to float.



A bright blue face appears misplaced in this land of the lost, a gregarious presence more suitable to the brightly coloured world of the computer screen, than stuck in the mud surrounded by shells. Perhaps a countenance too exuberant, too over-the-top, manic and uncontrollable, while fun for a short time was tossed aside into shimmering pools of the forsaken. Some faces take on the fractured semblance of a fallen warrior, a hardened visor broken unable to withstand the humiliating loss of dignity. Shattered and desolate like somebody who is on the wrong end of cyber bullying and whose silver screen destruction imposes its mark on a fragile personality.



The ceramic sculptures on the ground form a roughly drawn circle stretching outwards from an empty centre. The faces rotate outwards away from an interior that is empty, multiplying beyond the control of a central force. The singular has become a multitude, a convulsive entity ready to respond to any situation in real or cyber space with a different persona. The outer image must conceal inner tensions and present a video streamed edited version of the self. They sleep and awaken when required to act out a role that responds to exterior stimuli. They perform to a script which will attract a fulfilling response and applause from similar entities. Some forms are distorted in an embryonic state similar to creatures in a science fiction film about to invade its human host. Can the void in the nucleus of this sculptural entity be filled once again by a guiding philosophy that keeps our core identity intact? Questions and thoughts linger on after leaving this show, transforming how we perceive and project our self-image in today’s culture.



Des Kenny chats to fellow artist Sally-Anne Kelly.
 

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, Sally-Anne Kelly,

Des Kenny Reviews Jenny Fox - Distant Thoughts and Faded Songs

March 11, 2015

09 March 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Jenny Fox - Distant Thoughts and Faded Songs.


Place and time search for definition in the myopic whites and hazy blues of Jenny Fox’s paintings in the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht (until 25 April 2015). Form dissipates into a ghostly semblance and the landscapes shimmering presence haunts the canvas surface like half developed photographs.


Jenny Fox,  As I stand alone with memories of home

The title of one painting As I stand alone with memories of home is an act of remembrance without the factual need for the subject matter of home to starkly exist before the artist’s defining eye. It is an inner emotional landscape the artist conjures that makes reference to peripheral reality. A white cold sun dissolves the landscape into a few elementary lines. An arc scythes through the paint hinting perhaps a hill as it kisses the sky above a blue indiscriminate foreground.


Jenny Fox, The melody lingers on


Again this white cold sun appears within The melody lingers on and its pale ethereal bearing cannot impose colour on the land beyond neutral blues and greys. The artist with a flurry of marks, gouged into the wet pigment and plaster endeavours to map raw forms into the fading ember of reminiscence like a phonograph needle following grooves in a record and vibrates the still land with mournful abandon.



Jenny Fox, Those funny little plans

The artist abdicates clarity of form in the pursuit of something more poetically cryptic and allows her engagement with the land become marooned in the materiality of paint. In Those funny little plans a dark grey shape occupies the top third of the painting, evoking a church spire and a town dowsed in the misty distance of pouring rain. Large silver brushstrokes sweep across sky and land, obscuring the frigid horizon, creating a floating world surrounded by rising flood waters. Bleached blues increase the surging watery drama to an image viewed as if through steam smeared glass.

Jenny Fox, Everything was quiet

Everything was quiet
is a large painting composed primarily of silver grey paint with an ashen grey rectangle, registered on the lower third of the canvas. Vertical strokes carved into the paint surface indicate falling snow racing across an immense sky over a barely discernible terrain. Sound finds no echo and the land is enveloped in shuddering silence. The perpetual fluctuation of nature is momentarily stalled in stillness. It’s these transient junctures in time that fleetingly descend upon the land that captures the artist imaginative engagement with picture making.



Jenny Fox, The way it changed

In The way it changed we recognise a distinguishable coast line with the curve of a beach receding towards a faint headland. The white surf and the pale sky blend together, wedding each other’s elements into a singular essence. A large vertical X scoured onto the paint surface attempts to anchor the image before it dissolves into a recurring haze of constant change. Throughout these works the embattled scarred surfaces portray the artist’s vigorous attempt to capture a capricious subject that appears to disperse before it is possessed.

 

Draiocht'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, Jenny Fox,

Des Kenny Reviews Bartosz Kolata - Circus

March 6, 2015

06 March 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Bartosz Kolata - Circus.

Bartosz Kolata's paintings occupy the walls of the Ground Floor Gallery space in Draíocht’s until 25 April 2015.
The artist combines old photographs of the Barnum and Bailey Circus with present day news events as a theatrical backdrop to explore the human condition. Past and present histories blur and merge seamlessly and a scene which may appear innocent and humorous has sinister undertones.


Bartosz Kolata - The Swank Assemble

In The Swank Assemble a monkey walks on stilts, a clown magically produces a bouquet of flowers and a dog owner tilts her dogs head joyfully for the photographer. This calm warm scene is upended by insidious interlopers seeking equal attention from the cameras phlegmatic eye. Two masked men stand menacingly above a kneeling hooded man, frozen in ragged fear, waylaid by a murderous fate. All the while the imperturbable ringmaster orchestrates the scenario for public consumption with emphatic attention to detail since all publicity is good for a cause.  


It is the combination of innocent and invidious imagery together in a painting which unsettles the spectator and makes viewing these works an edgy experience. Finale Parade incorporates all the usual imagery associated with a performance in a circus, an elephant sits obeying a female trainer while a dancing bear follows the compulsive rhythm of the band and a trapeze artist defies gravity. Yet in the foreground a youth jumps up and down on prostrate figures and the disconcerted audience wonder nervously if this is part of the entertaining act. Should they laugh and clap or cry stop. The boundaries between reality and theatricality are suspended and the audience search vainly for a ring master to take control and grant meaning to an absurd situation. Of course any ring master will suffice, as long as order is restored even if reason is circumvented and ignored.


Bartosz Kolata - Balloons Party

Unsettled, the viewer begins to question all seemingly benign imagery. Are the children in Balloons Party being groomed for indecent acts or is it just a normal happy celebration? Have all the recent abusive cases concerning children destroyed our discerning judgement when looking at a seemingly happy painting like this. Our natural equilibrium is destabilised and cultural certainty about what is benign and malign has no coherent value anymore and this uncertainty is filled with paranoia.


Sometimes the artist use of present day imagery is less provocative and disturbing when there is an indisputable narrative in the painting. In Spectacle a bust of Putin the Russian leader holds centre stage, surrounded by a yellow haired dancer and a female puppeteer. The metaphor is obvious as Putin invokes the puppeteer to pull the stings to his instructions and he controls events without direct involvement.


Bartosz Kolata - Generals' Feast

In Generals' Feast a young officer is about to be clubbed to death as he sits at the generals table. No doubt he has conveyed mutinous thoughts that do not equate with the Generals. The scene is filled with a clown a ballerina and various circus types who are impervious to the violence occurring. The story line follows the actor’s actions in a defined fashion leading to a conclusion that is predictable.


The tension is increased when the artist leaves no guideline to the paintings meaning and permits multiple interpretations. A woman is surrounded by eleven clowns who are all painted with smiling faces yet her face is vacant and not filled in by the artist. Each clown has his own identity and performs to that character in the circus but without their clown persona would they disappear into the anonymous ether of the unsung like the faceless dancer they encompass? They must maintain their masks to remain real. 


Bartosz Kolata - Her and clowns

This is one of many interpretations to this enigmatic work and another spectator may chronicle a separate explanation.

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Read more on Bartosz's website ... here ... and ... here ... 
Draiocht'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, Bartosz Kolata, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny Reviews Sinead McDonald - Uchronia

December 8, 2014

08 December 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Sinead McDonald, ‘Uchronia’.

 

Sinead McDonald’s photographs in Draíocht’s First Floor Gallery explore, through the medium of self-portraiture, alternative identities she might have assumed if destiny and chance had determined a different future from her present fate as an artist. Can fantasising divergent future histories offer a sense of control over current existence? Are all our blind tomorrows fractured if viewed from a disordered contemporary society? Such questions naturally surface when standing before these inquisitive images.


Self Portrait at my son's grave on his birthday

In one of the more poignant photographs the artist stands in a graveyard before her imagined son’s gravestone. It is the only photograph in which the artist does not confront the viewers gaze but turns away and hides her devouring loss from voyeuristic eyes. It is a frightening realisation that even invented suppositions have ungovernable and painful tragedies. A fiction can fearfully seed contemporary life with a premonition that may summon unwanted fate.


Self Portrait once removed

In Self Portrait Once Removed the artist presents herself as a young teenage boy standing awkwardly but self absorbed in his school tracksuit on a suburban street. He seems to portray an internal conflict while assuming the identity of a female persona in a male body. The boy becomes an actor transforming his identity to inhabit another’s vision as the artist becomes an ambiguous spectator while she views her own gender change. The sexual metamorphasis hints at the dual nature of our humanity that lies submerged in the silhouetted preserve of the psyche.



Self Portrait if my parents had called me Irene Sinéad instead of Sinéad Irene

There is also wit and humour explored in certain images. In one photo the artist poses the question what would happen if my names were reversed from Sinéad Irene to Irene Sinéad. Inevitably this minor rearrangement creates a new character of a primary school teacher in a catholic school. Irene Sinead sits primly in a chair soberly dressed correcting children’s exercise books as a statue of the Virgin Mary looks down on high denoting that greater forces than humanity decide our vocation. The theme of naming a child and its consequence is explored in the famous Johnny Cash song where the absent father called his son Sue. He grew up strong, learning to defend himself, fighting all who jeered his name. Irene Sinead on the other hand is not a fighter but a shy introspective school teacher preparing children for exciting possible futures reserved Irene will not achieve since she accepts fatalistically life is predetermined.


Self Portrait if I'd been born an only child

While in a Self Portrait as an only Child she stands confidently erect in a dress suit next to her Audi. She places her hand on the car proudly proclaiming ownership. Her world is ordered but conventional and there is no desire to experience life beyond her middle class existence.

In another photograph she has become a doctor because she accidently walked home in 1989 by way of Camden Street. What mysterious event occurred on Camden Street that helped decide the career of the protagonist is shuttered away unseen but had profound effects similar to Saint Paul on his eventful journey on the road to Damascus. We are left wondering if contrary routes were chosen, divergent outcomes would unfold, changing the course of personal and world history.

In all the photographs the artist portrays her characters with their hair tied up in a ponytail. The presentation of hair typifies the role of each character and becomes a prop in creating new identities. Yet in Self Portrait Working on the Time Machine her hair hangs loosely, flowing uninterrupted over her shoulder. Caught in the present her hair flows undisturbed not yet ready to participate in future characterisations since the time machine is not switched on. The artist stands transfixed anxiously waiting for the time machine to decide her future. The show leaves the spectator pondering many unanswered questions but this is a strength not a weakness. Long after leaving Draíocht the viewer is burdened with lingering thoughts that life’s arresting past may dictate our shimmering tomorrows. 


Self Portrait Working on the Time Machine


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, Sinead McDonald,

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