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,