Des Kenny Reviews Katie O’Neill - Eternal Light

December 11, 2013

Eternal Light
A solo exhibition by Katie O'Neill - Amharc Fhine Gall IX - Curated by Noelle Collins
FRI 06 DEC 2013 - SAT 01 FEB 2014
FIRST FLOOR GALLERY




Amharc Fhine Gall showcases the work of recent visual art graduates who reside in County Fingal, granting them their first solo show. The arts department in County Fingal have raised the profile of this event in the contemporary art sphere by engaging and working with the curator Noelle Collins. The curator embarked on the unenviable task in choosing from a shortlist of artists, before deciding who to select for the exhibition. Meeting and talking to artists in their studio while enjoyable is fraught with tension when career making decisions are involved. Sensitivity with young artists on these occasions is paramount and granting insights where further opportunities with other art institutions for their work can mitigate the feeling of exclusion, if unselected.  Out of this selection process Katie O Neill was chosen to have a solo exhibition in Draíocht. The curator and artist become involved in a mutual discourse on how to unearth the rich possibilities in presenting the artists work in the gallery space. The investment of time and understanding creates an affinity between both parties and this can establish a beneficial relationship long after the show has concluded.


Curator Noelle Collins & Artist Katie O'Neill


Katie O Neill’s photographic perception on the surface appears innocuous as her images emerge serene in calm suffused light. Yet there is an underlying fearful narrative in these scenes, disrupting their tranquil exterior finish. In “Wake Up“ a grey concrete wall is inscribed with black writing admonishing us to wake up and beneath this in gaudy pink, is the proclamation,”we are damned”. We are confronted with a message that warns us of foreboding events but too late the prophecy went unheeded and all perished. The artist becomes an oracle searching for signs and portents of disaster that go unnoticed, trying to interpret their potential significance.



In the photograph “Power Lines” a golden light shimmers ominously on a grass verge in a breathless landscape. The aftermath of a visitation, foretelling a calamity beyond understanding. This layering of unease permeates throughout the show. At times reading like stills from a horror film, introducing the viewer to an indescribable dread waiting to unfold.



The artist maintains the suspense by not revealing the origins or the rationale behind the white vapours impeding access to the image in “Smoke”. In the absence of concrete facts the imagination fills the whiteout imagery with smothering fears that impinge reason. Works that appear as a casual snapshot retain an aura of the unknown. “Silentscape” reveals a landscape of grey sky pressing down on brooding trees and static green grass where sound abandons nature and paranoia gains a foothold.

In the centre of the gallery space two tables hold three glass cases each containing six Polaroid photographs. This form of photography does not lend itself to manipulation by photo-shopping on a computer. Its immediate response to the artist’s desires opens a path to more personal explorations. In one container a photo of plastic bag with the caption of the Beatles song “Help” lies against the bare branches of a bush. Photographs of a bleached white building, a waste ground harbouring empty alcohol bottles lay beside an image of the blurred head of a young woman. Shedding light on the dark sub stratum of a private history draws attention to the vulnerability of individuals seeking a purpose when all is meaningless. In another glass case two photos of the same person face each other and stare with searing eyes into the void of the self, surrounded by photos of walls, high rise buildings and graffiti denoting an “open city”. The personality dissolves into the white noise of the city and spinning thoughts cannot overcome exterior impediments on the journey towards self discovery .Nevertheless the artist stumbles forward, lost, infatuated by existence with flared nerve endings exposed to fate, for art’s sake.

Fingal’s Art Department can take pride in helping create this exhibition but the borders of county Fingal will not contain the raw and challenging talent of Katie O Neill.


Eternal Light
A solo exhibition by Katie O'Neill - Amharc Fhine Gall IX - Curated by Noelle Collins
FRI 06 DEC 2013 - SAT 01 FEB 2014
FIRST FLOOR GALLERY

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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