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,

Des Kenny Reviews Gerry O’Mahony - Keepers of Silence

December 8, 2014

08 December 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Gerry O'Mahony, 'Keepers of Silence'.

Gerry O Mahony’s paintings occupy the Ground Floor Gallery of Draíocht like dark pools where forms shimmer and float in a primitive state waiting gently for the viewer to plunge into their depths to decipher and reach an understanding of their content. The paintings are immersed in a clear resin on panels of wood and various layers of paint float in the solution, magnifying the illusion of a bottomless interior realm. The wood panels are scoured with calligraphic marks anchoring elementary signs and symbols to a formless subterranean landscape. These rudimentary marks may describe a mountain, tree, sun or moon and signify a primordial language before the use of words. Arcane signs contain the spiritual essence of objects and act as a pathway into the origins of an archetypal underworld that is lost and forgotten.



Searching for a wide embrace, 60x60cm

In Searching for a Wide Embrace a yellow mountain hovers above dolman structures while a white full moon hangs like a pendant of an ancient order as white dots flicker and dance across a boundless sky. Forms and shapes shimmer into being from darkness and return undefined to their source. Blobs of red punctuate the paint surface akin to the flamed torches of acolytes on a pilgrimage through the night seeking solace from a deaf sky.



Changing Shadows 1, 120x120cm

Changing Shadows 1
is a large painting containing four panels where circular and pyramid designs compete with a surface of globular blacks, pale yellows and transparent purples. Forms are etched with a black line pining them to a dynamic formless painterly picture plane. The artist permits the forms discover their own placement in the crammed chaos of shifting space before sinking into complete dissolution and allows form freedom to flutter into life or fade unannounced into silence. The painting attains a dream state where the unconscious dictates a blurred mysterious narrative.


Changing Shadows 2, 120x120cm
 

Changing Shadows 2 is a more structured painting were the forms find a harmonic balance within the square edges of the picture. A wheel shaped structure has equal placement to an upturned moon and soar above three echoing mountains. Pale yellows and greens lend the painting a serene sensibility allowing the ancient symbols of nature renew a gutted utopia.


Close to the edge, 60x120cm

The two panels in the painting Close to the edge have totem like imagery. The left hand panel contains a single winged warrior bathed in yellow light while the right hand panel contains what appears to be a sickly obese creature. The external reality of a world on the precipice of climatic change invades the internal domain of an inner vision and invokes scorned and forgotten guardians from primordial origins to rise from the bellows of their dreams and heal nature’s wounds. The artist has no control of the unconscious but can consciously remove barriers which impede access to the underthings that dwell in the mind.


The Seed Sank Deep 2, 80x75cm
 

The Seed Sank Deep 2 is a small painting charged with primitive imagery. A crossed wheel floats in the blue sky marking the hours of the heavens while a ringed form in green and red is surrounded by white dots. Seeds of life and time emerge from the darkness of creation, breaching the edge of emptiness with the caress of life.

Gerry O Mahony’s accumulated images of ancient signs, symbols and mystical fetishes introduce the viewer to an underworld which lies buried beyond folk memory. The understanding of these ancient hieroglyphics and imperishable myths will illuminate contemporary culture.


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, Gerry O'Mahony,

Des Kenny Reviews Mary Claire Kehoe - Concentrate On Your Breathing

October 2, 2014

26 September 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Mary Claire Kehoe, 'Concentrate on Your Breathing'.

Marie Claire Kehoe is a printmaker and her prints are exhibited in the First Floor Gallery in Draiocht. The artist uses monoprints and collograph techniques to produce unadorned but effective abstract imagery of elevated emotional intensity. The works while having a layered psychological aspect to their understanding also can stand alone in a formal sense as explorations in the language of abstraction. While the prints maintain this duality, it’s the emotional mark making driven by inner need that adds intensity to the impersonal barriers surrounding abstraction.



Support System

In Support System three thick vertical black lines are bolstered by base line which appears to act as a foundation stone. But this keystone is ferociously scoured undermining its weight bearing nature and a vertical line receives similar treatment. The comfortable gilded beliefs held so dear begin to crumble under intense scrutiny and from the rubble of a shattered spirit a new but fragile persona may reveal itself.


Top Heavy / Suffocating / Trapped


In Trapped a black triangular form lays dormant captured beneath two strident grey strokes .The fervent urgency of the grey mark making stifles attempts at freedom from fates shackling indifference. While in Overspill the enclosed red escapes the comfort of its square shaped brushstrokes and flows in a free falling splash towards plundering chaos. While impatiently seeking release from pain, there is the possibility of failing to govern responsibly the release of dark harbingers from the psychic depths and this creates new agonies that lack redemptive healing power. This is further encountered in Open the Floodgates where a rampant black paint plunges downwards onto a sharp restrictive parapet. Once the unconscious is liberated, a torrent of soulful energy scatters without restraint around and beyond self imposed defence systems that guard and shadows our visible personality.



Close Your Eyes and Take a Deep Breath

A sense of panic can arise when confronting the dread that lies beneath the subterranean layers of the unconscious mind and breathing techniques are often found helpful to calm ragged nerves. In Close Your Eyes and Take a Deep Breath a roughly brushed black square contains splatters of blue suspended in self- possessed animation, briefly frozen before the next exhaustive engagement with nameless terrors are resumed. This subject matter is portrayed once more in Concentrate on Your Breathing where the central dark form floats momentarily within the white borders of the print but than oozes beyond the printing plates edges , seeping onto the bleached margins of the printed paper. Calm breathing encourages the emotional outpouring to escape the periphery of the minds restraint in a balanced determined rate, moderating rising angst to endurable levels.


Please Mind Me 1

Meagre marks that possess poignant if austere imagery have a dynamism that concentrates the viewers eye with an intensity that are absent in more complex representations. This effective approach is used successfully in Please Mind Me 1, where a simple curved, open ended line holds a single tender yellow dot. The hesitant opening like a harbours mouth, permits the vagaries of life enter the fixed solitude of a tattered inner sanctum and although not immune from fear or hurt will help embrace the evergreen light a new beginning cultivates. The powerful symbolism portrayed with minimalist means offers a complex insight into a fractured minds excruciating descent through the shrouded layers of the inner self that eventually leads to recovery. These works stand solemnly unabated in their searing pursuit of truth and have a cathartic quality that rewards close scrutiny from a receptive viewer.


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

 

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

Des Kenny Reviews Bernie Masterson - Weather

October 2, 2014

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

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


Storm Surge


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



Squall Line

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

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



Flood Fields

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



Creeping Fog

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



Evening Sky

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


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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

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