ARTIST INTERVIEW: Noel Brennan
'My work seeks to explore the power of the images and structures which flow incessantly towards us. The waves of signs, architecture, ads, monuments and art seem to be in limitless supply and have a heavy influence on our thinking and how we experience our world”.
Noel Brennan, April 2006
ARTIST INTERVIEW: Noel Brennan
in conversation with Nicola Murphy on Monday 10 April 2006
Through a specially commissioned installation which directly addresses the architecture of Draíocht’s ground floor gallery, Noel Brennan created his exhibition on site one week before the show opened to the public on 10 March 2006. The central force of this show is the dynamic tension that exists between the artists conceptual choices in the making of an art object and its presence within a purposely designed gallery space.
While making his work in the space Noel Brennan used the architecture of the gallery to impact the sculptural process. The show combines sculpture and photography in addition to other two-dimensional works.
Noel Brennan graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design in 2002. Previous exhibitions include, the Goethe Institute 2005, (two person show), Crawford Open 5, 2004, Artomatic/Artomatique and Gallery, 44 Belgium, 2002. He currently works at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Draíocht's Ground Floor Gallery, View 1 of Noel Brennan's Exhibition
Q: Can you explain some of the ideas behind your artworks and your practice?
A: My work seeks to explore the power of the images and structures which flow incessantly towards us. The waves of signs, architecture, ads, monuments and art seem to be in limitless supply and have a heavy influence on our thinking and how we experience our world. In Ireland we are living in a time of huge shifts in our environmental and cultural landscape. The cities and towns are expanding at an unprecedented rate, with blocks of buildings going up seemingly overnight. I often wonder how this affects us as citizens. What effect does it have on our senses, our value systems and our discernment? These are just some of the questions which drive my practice.
Q: Tell us about your current exhibition in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery and talk us through some of the works?
A: The most notable features of my practice, which are particularly relevant to this current exhibition, can be broken up into three main areas of development:
1) site-specific sculptures
2) photography based works, and
3) free-standing sculptures
Noel Brennan, 'Leak'
In the construction of the large scale, site-specific sculptures ‘Shine Block’ and ‘Leak’, it is mostly 2”x 1” white deal wood which I’ve predominately used. This wood for me has a regular ‘work-a-day’ aesthetic and a common appearance. It is found in canvas stretchers and building-site carpentry. The 2”x 1” appeals to me because of the natural root contrasted with its machined shape. These sculptural constructions deal directly with the architecture of Draíocht’s Gallery space and surrounds. In working with the form, function and significance of the space the sculptures began to emerge. I painted the surfaces of the wooden lengths in a variety of colours which reference the space and surrounding environment. I’ve used paint to add a synthetic quality to the wood without obliterating its’ natural origin. The colours I’ve chosen compliment and contrast with the local ambience.
Equally, the physical construction is based on a set of relationships which balance, counterbalance and unbalance the space. The creation of dynamic tension is a central aim in the construction of the work.
Noel Brennan, 'Shine Block'
It is the production of similar tensions within the frame that constitute the main concerns in the creation of the photographic works and photo-installations.
The ongoing series Aesthetic Stick (2004-continuing) is a case in point.
The work is enacted through the use of the Aesthetic Stick which is designed as a ruler ‘to measure the degrees of beauty in everything’. The Aesthetic Stick is a hybrid of the primary colours of pigment and the primary colours of light. This ruler is held up against items or scenes of interest and then photographed. The Stick cuts through the composition of each of these photographed measurements. This initiates a set of relationships within the frame and the concept, which are humorous on one level but aggressive and autocratic just behind the surface.
And then in contrast, the free-standing sculptures do not rely upon or react directly to the architecture of the space. These sculptures offer a strong family resemblance to the architectural works yet differ in their scale and their inclusion of non-art objects, like the basin in ‘Nude reclining with tears’, and the wine glass in ‘Aerial’.
These contributing factors lead to a more human quality in these free-standing works. There is a physical dynamism strived for in these pieces. The scale and introduction of familiar objects gives the sculptures an abstracted figurative energy. This component gives me the opportunity to describe the experience of living in the fray, which is being examined in both the environmental and photographic artworks.
Noel Brennan’s exhibition They are doing something on us behind the fog
will be on view in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery until 29 April 2006.
Draíocht’s Galleries are open from Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm and admission is free.
For further information about this exhibition 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