Des Kenny Reviews Patrick Horan - Present State

June 20, 2013

The figures in Patrick Horan’s paintings do not fall from the sky like Icarus but seem to float in the ether between heaven and earth. In Pieter Brueghel’s (1525 - 1569) famous painting of Icarus falling from the sky to his doom, we encounter the moment he crashes into the sea where only the bottom half of his torso is seen. Around the catastrophic event life carries on, a man ploughs his field, a Sheppard tends his flock, and a ship passes by, not intervening to aid the fallen Icarus. The happening goes unnoticed but intervention would not have saved Icarus from his fate. Patrick Horan’s figures in these paintings are unable to change their fates and like Icarus in Brueghel’s painting we only see the lower region of the body. The expressive quality of the upper body is removed from the scenario and the figures are forlorn without the ability to communicate fully on the unearthly nature of their existence. They float aimlessly without any perceived goal but are subject to forces beyond their control and are unable to influence historical events.

The darkening skies in some paintings hint with foreboding the vulnerable nature of naked flesh and its inability to defend itself against the coming onslaught. In this vacuum, exposed flesh is helpless against onrushing chaos and entwine closer, searching for comfort and protection. A foot tries to cling to the inside of a thigh; a knee tries to embed itself beneath a foot. They clasp and tumble into one another hoping to prevent non-existence.

Searching for a way to decipher these paintings is difficult. On one hand they are beautifully crafted paintings of human flesh and yet suggest on another level a deeper meaning which the artist does not reveal. It is the search for a greater understanding of these works that the rest of this review explores.

Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863) stated something along the lines,”if you cannot draw a falling man from a fourth story window to the ground you will never be able to go for the big stuff”. Patrick no doubt knows his art history and would recognise this quote. Patrick has the skill to accomplish the test set by Delacroix but what about the “big stuff”. My train of thought brought me to Theodore Gericault’s (1791 – 1824) painting “raft of the Medusa”. The painting is based on a sea faring tragedy. A French ship ran aground on a sand bank and to lighten its load and refloat, the captain placed its rich travellers in boats and the poor were dispatched onto a make shift raft and left to their fate. 147 souls were placed on this raft but only 10 survived. The captain and his crew survived unscathed. Later it was discovered the captain had not sailed in twenty years and did not know the waters around the African coast. Delacroix posed naked for one of the figures in Gericault’s painting and Gericault’s extensive research led him to make drawings of amputated limbs, which in a tenuous fashion indentifies a relationship to Patrick Horan’s disembodied figures.

I am wondering are these works by Patrick Horan a reference symbolically to a recent contemporary Irish tragedy. The aftermath and consequences at the demise of the Celtic tiger are still felt by Irish people since 2008. The ship of state had poor leadership, strayed into unchartered waters and ran aground. The Irish people did not rise up in revolt, no banks were burnt or windows shattered. Unable to control and alter events we entered into a numb like state similar to the dream like figures in Patrick Horan’s paintings. Are these paintings a psychological portrait of a traumatised nation, shell shocked, surrendering to a dream world? We are a gentle people and perhaps the only safe haven open to us, was to retreat into the floating realm of dreams. Yet Patrick’s paintings remain enigmatic and appear ready to accept any rendition visited upon them and grant no final interpretation, but engage with the “big Stuff” with quiet restraint and emotional intensity.


Patrick Horan
Present State
Read more … here

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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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Patrick Horan,

Draíocht Nominated for Pride of Place 2013

June 19, 2013

Fingal County Council has nominated Draíocht for the Pride of Place 2013 competition, under the category of ‘Community Arts Initiatives’.

The judging took place recently over a two and a half hour period, starting with a 30 minute presentation outlining details of Draíocht’s many projects, events and community participation initiatives.

The judges were then introduced to all staff members during an informative tour around the building, taking in both theatre spaces, both galleries and the artists studio. They then had a chance to meet with local artists, clown choir participants and D15 Youth Theatre members and leaders, rounded off by a live performance by Jessy Rose, one of Blanchardstown’s newest songwriting and performing talents. Snapping it all on the day was local Irish and internationally renowned photographer Tom Lawlor.

The Pride of Place competition is all about acknowledging in a meaningful manner the fantastic selfless work being done by people in communities all over the island of Ireland, specifically recognising the involvement of the local community in all aspects of promoting social cohesion, involvement in planning, the promotion of heritage and environmental awareness. The focus is on people coming together to shape, change and enjoy all that is good about their local area.

The competition is hosted by Co-operation Ireland under its Local Authority Programme in conjunction with the all-island Local Authority Steering Forum comprising officials from authorities in both parts of Ireland.

Local Authorities from practically every county in Ireland have nominated groups in their local area during 2013. Draíocht was delighted to be nominated by Fingal County Council and given the chance to showcase what can be achieved when people work together to enhance parts of their area for the good of the whole community.

Emer McGowan, Director of Draíocht said: ‘Artist Tracey Emin once said it perfectly when she said that ‘Art can absolutely change the world’. We believe this in Draíocht and put our local community at the centre of all our endeavours’.

Tom Dowling, Chairman of Pride of Place, said: "The competition is about showing respect and inclusion for every sector in our communities, young, old, rich or poor and creating communities to which the people are proud to say they belong".

Awards take place in Derry in November so cross your fingers for Draíocht!

Fingal County Council has also nominated the Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul under ‘The Gathering – Cultural Tourism’ Category and Rush Town under ‘Populations of over 2000 people’ Category.

Draíocht is delighted to have won a runners up prize of €500 at the awards ceremony of 700 guests in Derry on 16 November 2013. Thanks to everyone for your support.


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By Draíocht. Tags: Draiocht Info,

Des Kenny Reviews Aisling Conroy - Ocular Reverberations

June 19, 2013

Aisling Conroy has almost finished as Artist in Residence at Draíocht for the last six months (January-June 2013). Aisling took advantage of Draíocht’s Artist Studio to produce the body of work situated on the Ground Floor Gallery space.

Placed in the centre of the gallery is a sculpture called Foundation, constructed from discarded frames. These frames may have held family photos, prints or paintings but now are empty. This void is filled by a chanting or humming sound emanating from two speakers placed at the base of the sculpture. The sound appears to resonate with memories of lost images that are still retained in the vacant frames like ghosts. The frames are haunted by their past. The sculpture tilts at an awkward angle and just about defies gravity and might topple over at any time. The artist is playing with the notion of discovering a tilted frame on a wall - we have an innate desire to rectify this imbalance and straighten the frame. When the frames are removed from their recognised formal function and operate in a different capacity, this eagerness to correct slanting frames, dissipates and our inaction is filled by the chanting humming music of the sculpture. Desire patiently emerges dressed in emptiness.

Four large circular lambda prints are found on one gallery wall. They are abstract in form and each print is dominated by one colour i.e. red, yellow, blue and green. The lighter colour found at the periphery recedes towards a dark centre. Each print has a unique musical recording which is heard through ear phones. The colour of the prints and musical chants entwine and release images from the recesses of our mind and imagination. The yellow print with the sound of children heard in the accompanied musical piece produces a feeling of joy and inescapable calm. The green print and chant evokes emerald forests, the scent of rain on green leaves and fern covered caves, gateways to mysteries not discovered. The blue print associates with images of distant Blue Mountains, cloud free skies and a yearning for something just beyond understanding. The red print bubbles with passionate desires that surface uncontrollably from depths of wildness we assumed were buried and forgotten. These works help transport the viewer into a daydream reverie where the unconscious thought stream encounters daily concerns. At times this is unnerving, since there is no control over the sensations and feelings that are unleashed. The artist allows such outpouring of imagery overcome our natural guarded exterior self and opens pathways to our interior life.

Around the rest of the gallery walls hang coloured pieces made from discarded corrugated boxes. Various sizes of card board are glued and are placed on top of each other. In one piece called Alber’s Ritual II, the artist makes reference to Josef Albers (1888- 1976) the artist who made paintings of coloured squares. Generally Albers created paintings with three coloured squares, each square smaller than the previous one. Using this restrictive formula he explored the effects colours had on their neighbouring colours. Whether they receded or moved forward when observed with the naked eye. Aisling re-examines this territory and finds a new theme by allowing the colours escape the picture plane of Albers illusory vocabulary and projects colour into the architectural space of the gallery. Artists are in constant dialogue with past masters and art history is a living entity and not a dust covered shelf full of books with tattered facts. These works extend a conversation with the past and take wing on changing winds of living history.

Aisling Conroy
Ocular Reverberations
Read more ... here ... 

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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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Aisling Conroy, Desmond Kenny,