Des Kenny Reviews Group Show, Curated by Aoife Dunne

July 26, 2017

28 July 2017 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews our First Floor Gallery Exhibition, Curated by Aoife Dunne, as part of Draíocht@Night ...

Aoife Dunne has drawn together a number of contemporary artists in the First Floor Gallery and curates a show which seeks to broaden the cultural narrative of concepts similar to her own practice. They are connected by a mutual interest in Manga comics, video games, fashion magazines and how our new virtual generation connects or disconnects with society.


Sadbh O’Brien
utilises collage as a creative tool to manipulate found imagery from fashion magazines and the internet, exploring topics on sexuality, feminism and the legacy of gender imbalance. Collage was used by Braque and Picasso to create visual puns in their engagement with cubism. It was further expanded to include political ideas and unlocking the dream worlds of the Dadaist and surrealists movements. Sadbh O’Brien follows in the footsteps of Hannah Hoch, Eileen Agar and Nancy Spero in employing collage as a medium to herald feminine politics and History. In Torn Colgate Smile With Apples,  a disjointed photographic lipstick smile rests between folded arms that touch coyly a pair of apples. Advertisers use the female body in all its guises to sell products like toothpaste that can guarantee a perfect smile, instil confidence and promoting the bewitching promise of romance. On another level the artist may be referencing Eve in the garden of paradise and gleefully celebrates her part in the fall of man. 

A laughing mouth with protruding tongue placed in the centre of a pleated skirt, greets the viewer daringly in Cunning Kowtow. Arms cocked in a sparring pose act as legs while on top of this strange body a leg protrudes ready to confront conformity. This sense of defiance is continued in Lollipop as a female figure lifts her skirt alluringly as a two fingered rebellious salute bulges starkly upon her shoulders. The sculpture Pseudo Science catches the viewer by surprise as they move away from the flat imagery of collage into the inanimate sculptural reality of three dimensions. The pieces of sheer plastic hang loosely like flayed skin on a silver clothes rail. The roughly sewn edges describe a human form and the head droops alarmingly like Munch’s famous painting of the scream. This work deliberates on the desperate craving to preserve youth and beauty through the illusion of plastic surgery.



Martina Menegon
’s video investigates the physical and psychological motivation that exists in trying to monitor and project a visual persona that is accepted by the self and society. The video screen reveals a young woman behind a veil staring anxiously at her limpid reflection. The face begins to distort beneath the veil while tremulous hands outside the guarded veil try to prevent the disfiguration. It becomes a redundant enterprise as other transformations take place away from the restraining hands, as her face shimmers beyond constraint into further contortions. The hopeless striving of the hands attempting to prevent the locomated distortion of the young woman’s veiled face declare an insurmountable expectation to create the perfect air brushed image that fashionable society will approve.



Ciaran Gallen
introduces the viewer to the iconic character filled world of Manga comics. Fantastical figures are caught in the maelstrom of an uncontrollable destiny. In a large painting called ‘Uzumaki Size’ a demon mask is surrounded by laughing and snarling creatures that appear to watch over oncoming doom with cartoonish relish and indifference. Blues, purples, green and orange swirl, clash and collide, increasing the tension across the painted surface as the mysterious melodrama unfolds.

In another work two large faces with enlarged blood shot eyes glare purposefully, trying to hypnotize the onlooker and introduce them into their horrifying pitiless underworld. Another painting reveals a decapitated figure surrounded by creatures who watch over the scene with unceremonious glee. The frantic mark-making across the paint surface mirrors the delirious situations contained in each painting. Using combinations of acrylics, ink, pastels, oil sticks and oil paint, the artist heightens the fervour across the painted ground and invokes the creative urgency of their production.



Kate O’Loughlin makes digital art for a virtual world. Data collected from the internet becomes the artist’s materials creating a visual context to explore and unearth subterranean pathways concealed from contemporary society. The prints contain a wide variety of recognisable symbols retaining alternative histories that the immediate visual experience fails to communicate. In both prints the brand logo Kappa appears denoting a certain branded lifestyle but Kappa, as a word, is also used on Twitch TV as a method of sarcasm and anti-globalisation rhetoric. A Greek urn and statue may hint at the Greek economic crises. The sandals in each print may refer to the incident in the Iraq war when President Bush had to dodge a sandal thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist at a press conference. Throwing sandals becomes a metaphor of defiance against the destructive acts of global super powers. The sandal may also pertain to the refugee crisis visited upon Greek shores. The artists titles of Slides do not advance any insights to the prints meaning, but leaves it open to the audience to disentangle the multitude of interpretations for themselves.





Evan Bech creates videos in rich psychedelic colours where purple Mohican figures distort and blend miraculously into a yellow background. These transformations appear logical as there are no limits or constraints imposed in this enchanted realm. Music reinforces the aimless unwinding storyline in the videos, capturing the viewer’s imagination with sight and sound. White bananas and exploding dynamite seem common place in a striped labyrinth that meanders purposively into an unending cartoon twilight zone. The videos have a hypnotic effect leaving the audience spellbound and when the video ends the retina feels momentarily caught on the iridescent wings of fantasy.


Group Show
FRI 7 JULY - SAT 26 AUGUST 2017 
First Floor Gallery, Draiocht Blanchardstown
http://www.draiocht.ie/visual_arts




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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