04 July 2016 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Jason Deans 'Any Observer' ...
Decay and impermanence are part of the natural order of existence and calculating the rate of dissolution and comprehending the process can prevent disaster. In 2008 the economic system collapsed because it expanded beyond its stable structure and like a bubble growing too big to contain itself it burst. The fall out of this disaster in both political and social terms have not receded beyond an unseen horizon of forgotten history but remains layered within touching distance throughout society.
Jason Deans' exhibition in the Ground Floor Gallery in Draiocht endeavours to understand and invoke the reality of our economic collapse. The sculptural forms act like props on a stage where choreographed decomposition is performed with theatrical pathos.
Gathered in a corner a number of pillars of various sizes bound together by a common fate, teeter on the edge of collapse. They have no binding agent to guard against crumbling decay. Irrepressible gravity will tug on them remorselessly and they will disintegrate becoming a mound of lustreless sand. The triumphant pillars of society will fall shapelessly down into a shameless state of mortal loss, created by their own hubris.
This theme exploring the dissolution of the building industry, where poor regularity inspections were a common practice, is examined in the piece Poor Foundation. Small bricks constructed with sand and cement seems to cling with geometric certainty to a corner of the gallery. The broad base holding up the pyramid form stands passively static but recent history informs us that the use of pyrite as a foundation material has caused great cracks to materialise in buildings. Already a straight edge begins to curve as the bricks in this sculpture move incrementally out of alignment reflecting the reality of the valueless homes people possess with such structural damage.
A work called Comes Tumbling Down consists of roughly moulded slabs of clay removed from barren Nama construction sites. It appears strong and assured but surrounding its base are great clods of earth which have fallen from the structure. The form is unstable, eroding before the viewer and the piece becomes a meditation on the overreaching and dysfunctional thinking of a privileged few during the Celtic Tiger era.
A drawing of electrical pylons copied from engineering plans appears to plot a course of conviction against the tide of uncertainty which echoes the arrested fragile psychological mood of the nation. On closer inspection the drawings are made with chalk, an unstable substance, whereas it’s normal for ink to be utilised. There is also hesitancy in their execution; lines waver outside their edges and at times are drawn loosely by hand instead of using mechanical drawing instruments. There are no regulators to inspect accurate plans so why produce them to the definitive standard required. Based on these drawing two electrical pylons are fabricated with elder wood. This is a soft wood that grows like a weed on empty construction sites. It has no monetary value since it cannot be utilised for kindling or making furniture. One pylon is called Powerless which is symptomatic of how the country was defenceless and unprepared for the approaching economic meltdown.
Yet throughout this economic storm the ship of state remained afloat and mass unemployment was eased by emigration. This is alluded to in the piece called Wandering were a ship made from elder wood, canvas and tar is lifted up on a parody of waves constructed by Ryanair boarding passes. Although at times the shows formal narrative is bleak and sombre, it is by confronting the harm done to society that the possibility to create an environment where collective healing may occur and the nation can recover from the trauma inflicted by the financial crash.
Read more about Jason's show ... 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.