Des Kenny Reviews Bernie Masterson - Weather
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.