Des Kenny Reviews Una Sealy
28 November 2012
Una Sealy, A Piano in the Kitchen, 120x120cm, oil on canvas
Una Sealy paints directly from life. This engagement with reality imposes great strain on the creative act. A sitter may want to move, just as you need stillness, arrive late or wish to leave early. The artist must look intensely at life in constant change and corral the fluctuating sensations of a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional surface, a stretched canvas. This concentrated creative endeavour demands stamina, to endure the delight of success and pain of failure at that pregnant juncture between subject matter and painting process, hoping a work of art emerges.
In “Neighbours” a 4 feet x 6 feet in size oil painting Una Sealy depicts a couple in a suburban bedroom sitting on either side of a marital bed. The sheets dividing their bed rise like two opposing waves about to collide into each other. In the emotional undertow of these sheets, marital bliss is saved or lost. A chink of light falls upon this daily domestic drama, unveiling a shadow of marital tension. When Una reveals the inner moods of her sitters, she raises the level of portraiture beyond a study of appearances and enters the territory of psychological drama.
A large oil painting titled “Other People’s Children” is situated in a family kitchen. Centred in the painting is a mother and orbiting around her like moons are three children caught in the gravitational force of paternal love. Love binds as well as enriches and motherhood imposes restrictions on self fulfilment until the young have reached maturity. Una aptly explores the glazed eyes of resignation on a mothers face, burdened with love. This is a shared communion between two mothers, artist and sitter. An unspoken truth is revealed, the confined existence of motherhood is accepted and not spurned, that instinctively, they acknowledge, love hurts. The children are of course unaware of loves selfless obligation which allows them freedom to grow.
Una needs an intimate knowledge of her sitters lives to allow her unearth the stories lying dormant beneath surface appearances. In “Thinking of Home” the sitter yearns for her homeland but there are barriers she must overcome, the obstacles appear more internal than external. Over the sitters shoulder is a large imposing wall and colossal sea; metaphorically they hint at the internal handicaps she must overcome before returning home. This frustrated longing, etches her wistful face.
In another painting an old artist sits in her studio surrounded by the implements of her craft. Undone by the art world’s indifference, she remains defiant, since defeat cannot gain purchase in a life given to beauty. She seems to implore the younger painter; this is your future and my inheritance to you.
Una Sealy, End of Days, 24x30cm, oil on board
Upstairs a number of small landscapes of a beach are laden with information of changing weather patterns and are superior in content and incident then the large landscapes found downstairs. In another small painting a kiosk is positioned against a stormy blue sky encircled by puddles of rainwater. It has a cryptic air of nostalgia, a place belonging to the past, declining unmanned in the present. In “End of days” an old wooden garden shed falls apart in the briny air. Its decaying structure tilts towards the engulfing ground where it will rot and disappear. I recognise that this small painting will outlive me and I will decline and become interred by the hungry earth. It is from dust to stardust we must return from whence we came. In the tumultuous rush through flowering and the passing of our lives, Una Sealy seems to imply that art and love will help us come to terms with our moribund destiny.
Una Sealy, Alley to the Sea, 120x120cm, oil on canvas
Read more about Una Sealy here …
Una Sealy / A Piano in the Kitchen & Other Stories / FRI 23 NOV 2012 - SAT 23 FEB 2013 / GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES
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.