Des Kenny launches Caroline Donohue’s Exhibition

November 17, 2011

Caroline Donohue
Selected Works to Date
FRI 18 NOV - SUN 26 FEB 2012

Caroline Donohue

Opening Night Launch Speech by Des Kenny
Thursday 17 November 2011, 7pm

Caroline is a fellow member of the Graphic studio. She first arrived into the studio on receipt of a Graduate Student award. She has participated in many group shows run by graphic members and those organised by the Graphic Studio and Gallery. This is a selected body of work.

The opening lines of a poem by E.E. Cummins begin with:-
Dreaming in marble all the castle lay
Like some gigantic ghost-flower born of night
Blossoming in white towers to the moon

This imagery evoked by Cummins, would, I believe, find a home in Caroline’s work. Her works straddle that border between the conscious and unconscious worlds. They seem to act as a conduit to both experiences. They inhabit that twilight reality of our dreams, half forgotten, half remembered, full of portents and signs and if understood and unravelled would guide us through our daily life. They remain mysterious, the question of their meaning linger unanswered and that is their attraction. The riddle of their interpretation is different for each viewer. The works demand quiet reflection before they give up their secrets.

They have another innate quality that intrigues me; they seem, bound in silence.
E.E. Cummins denotes this state in his poetry as “silence in the rhyme”.
It is said, in music, art lies in the silence, between the notes. I never fully understood this notion of silence in visual art until I encountered three paintings on the same wall, in the museum of modern art in Rome. The three paintings were, a large CY Tyombly measuring 10feetx 15feet, another large painting by Anselm Kiefer of equal size and between these two works was a Giorgio Morandi about 18inches x 24 inches. It seemed a ridiculous combination to me, how could this small, quiet, Morandi compete with its large boisterous neighbours. This small Morandi seemed to emanate from its centre a serene truth. Its silence had a compelling power. A strength which seemed to beguile its neighbours and overcome its handicap in size.

Caroline’s work has a similar character; an atmosphere of silence surrounds her work, upon which the fulcrum of her art pivots. This feature of her work acts as a counterpoint and antidote to the boisterous white noise of today’s contemporary art world. This silence appears to slow down time to that focal point of our imagination, that internal realm, which is an integral part of our humanity.

Des Kenny


“This body of work has been inspired by my ongoing exploration of physical, psychological and poetic space. I am interested in the delicate point where man and the natural world co-exist or in some cases collide. I strive to create places for poetic possibility, a space where time can be suspended; I extend to the onlooker a glimpse of intricate private worlds. Each narrative creates a dialogue between these internal and external conflicting worlds, thus providing a place to dream.” Caroline Donohue
Read more about Caroline 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.

Des Kenny, Rosie Fay, President of Ireland Mary McAleese


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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Caroline Donohue, Desmond Kenny,


April 1, 2003

"I think art is a kind of a magic. You wait and wait until you see that magical moment. Sometimes its just ordinary people doing their ordinary chores, but an artist can find the extraordinary in the ordinary and I always try to bring my street scenes alive. ”.
Des Kenny, April 2003.

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Desmond Kenny in conversation with Nicola Murphy in April 2003  as he started his residency in Draíocht's Artists Studio .

Brief Introduction:

Local artist, Desmond Kenny commenced as Artist in Residence at Draíocht in April 2003.

Des, who lives in Hartstown with his wife Lucy and 2 children, Hazel (21) and Jean (18), is a self taught painter who has been painting and exhibiting in Ireland and abroad for over 15 years including a major solo exhibition at Draíocht in June 2001. Desmond is well known in Blanchardstown and further afield for his lively depictions of urban life, particularly Dublin's inner city. Painted in relief in layers of impasto paint, Kenny's paintings take on a sculptural form as they stand sometimes an inch or more thick off the canvas. His work also reveals a quiet compassion in his observation of the homeless, beggars and familiar street characters who, with spiralling rents and increased costs of living, have been left behind in the march of economic progress.

Desmond has exhibited widely in Ireland, most recently in 2002 at the West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen and the Tinahely Arts Centre, Wicklow. Previous exhibitions include the Toradh Gallery, Duleek (1999), Tig File, Cork (1998) and Liberty Hall, (1997). His work is in many collections including Bewleys, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council.

Q: So tell us how it all started for you Des?

A: I started painting 17 years ago and I’m self taught. It all started while I was recovering from an operation in hospital. I was feeling bored, so I asked my wife Lucy to bring me in a sketch pad. I began to draw all day long, every day. I was out of work for 6 months and in that period I taught myself to paint. I initially painted from home for 13 years and then joined a group studio called Pallas Studios in Dublin city for 4 years.

Des Kenny, Moore Street

Q: You also work full time for Irish Rail. How do you fit your painting into your busy schedule?

A: Although I’ve been working for Irish Rail driving trains for 24 years (10 yrs driving diesels on the Sligo, Rosslare and Galway lines and now 12 years driving the Dart, Fairview Depot) I consider myself a professional artist. My day job supplements and sustains my love of painting. To keep myself inspired during the day, I often open my locker in work and seek advice from the picture of Rembrant which I keep there! My whole core and existence depends on painting. Without it, there’s no point for me. It’s more like my full time job has to fit around my painting!

Des Kenny, Talbot Street

Q: How would you describe your style of painting?

A: Because my art is so personal to me, I don’t accept commissions, only painting people and scenes I know. My present style of painting, very thickly in oils, came about when I took a trip to Paris 10 years ago to study. In the museums I discovered Rodin’s late sculptures, which had an unfinished lumpy tactile quality. On returning home to Dublin I endeavoured to capture this quality of Rodin’s, on canvas. It took a while to perfect! After destroying many paintings, I painted a picture that was constructed with thick impasto oil paint. Happy with this painting, I wondered how thick I should paint it. The answer came while taking a walk around my estate. I saw a heavily pregnant woman and I was inspired to paint as thickly as the life she carried. I went home and painted another painting 3 inches thick in oil paint. Sometimes these works can take up to 7 years to dry. Another feature of my work is the struggle to produce an image which obeys rigorous drawing, yet through layers of paint tries to free itself from such a straight-jacket. This conflict produces imagery which is both innovative and exciting in figurative art.

Des Kenny, Moore Street

Every single painting I’ve seen of your work includes people. Why is this?

A: I am a figurative painter, painting the nude figure, portraits and street scenes of Dublin. The subject matter must be personal to me and I’m always trying to make a fresh statement. When I looked at Moore Street for instance, I saw it as ‘ Aladdins Cave’, something special, so I painted it. I think art is a kind of a magic. You wait and wait until you see that magical moment. Sometimes its just ordinary people doing their ordinary chores, but an artist can find the extraordinary in the ordinary and I always try to bring my street scenes alive.

Time will eventually take everybody away and I want to capture the presence of someone I know, to keep them there longer than their allotted time might be in that place.

As an artist my aim is to make an art that is simple and can be understood by all (the busman, taximan and housewife), that is not a reflection of the artist, but is a reflection of the people I paint.

Des Kenny, Cumberland St Market, Saturday morning

Q: So how important is this time for you in Draíocht’s Artists Studio for 3 months?

A: It’s vital. At home I’ve converted my shed into a studio for myself. Here I have so much more space. As you can see I can spread out maybe 10 works around me and work on them, or use them for reference. This studio gives me time out in a quiet peaceful environment, but I know that there’s an office full of people next door if I need a bit of company or a break. The staff are very supportive and I have access to Admin and PR backup while I’m here, which you don’t get at home in your garden shed! I also want to use this time if I can to help break down the public’s natural resistance to entering a gallery space to view an artist’s work. I’d be delighted to meet with anyone who’d like to call by and see me at work in the studio, or ask me questions, or just to have a look around.

For further information about Artist Des Kenny or the Visual Arts programme please contact:
Visual Arts Officer, Draíocht / Tel: 01-809 8026

For media information please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht / Tel: 01-8098021

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By Draíocht. Tags: Desmond Kenny,

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