Des Kenny talks to Aisling Conroy, Artist in Residence at Draíocht

February 21, 2013

Des Kenny talks to Aisling Conroy, Artist in Residence at Draíocht

18 February 2013

While visiting Aisling Conroy, the new Artist in Residence in Draíocht, I was surprised to find a large body of work nearing completion. Normally an artist will spend time formulating ideas during the initial phase of a studio residency, but Aisling has a solo show in the Talbot Gallery at the end of February and is under pressure to finish this body of work before beginning new work for a show in June at Draíocht.  An intense air of restless purpose combined with fraught solicitude permeated the studio space. There was a desire to have all the works replete with artistic intent and anxious that they will hold up to the scrutiny of her peers. I was intruding, taking up precious time, interfering with the definitive decision making process that occurs when an artist determines what works are fit for showing.

On the end wall hung three works constructed from corrugated card board boxes. The central piece in black circular shapes dominates the wall. The black circular forms expand over the wall and penetrate ominously into the studio space. A black hole in the dark heavens contracts and pulls all light inward but this dark sculptural form wants to grow chaotically outwards and devour the light and space around it. Yet we should not view this in dread, science has stated that a great part of the universe is constructed of dark matter and perhaps Aisling is trying to give shape to something we cannot perceive or understand. To the right is a work in a dense yellow presented in layered rectangles and again made with corrugated cardboard. This work seems more contained without the wish to grow incrementally beyond its own fullness. Yellow appears to engender a calming effect and Aisling understanding the natural force of colour allows it dictate the sculptures organic growth.



Aisling's Studio Space in Draíocht


At the base of these sculptures are numbers of paintings leaning against the wall. Each has a singular coloured blob on a white ground. On top of these works, fine lines made with black thread lend a feeling of depth to the picture plain. The flat sections of vivid pulsating colour float above the white ground due to the illusion of the fabricated shapes created by black threads. These threaded forms impart a mystical quality and intimate the elemental coded signs found in ancient religions. Aisling informed me of her interest in religious iconography and how religious art invokes a transcendental experience in the believer. The artist attempts to evoke this transforming religious experience in her paintings by the meditive use of colour and symbols. She is interested in the mystical pursuit of the sublime found in the core beliefs of all religions. Her abstracted forms do not belong to the confined narrow interpretation of one belief system but opens the viewer to diverse rites of passage that allows us experience the sublime in everyday reality. These paintings can function as a portal to spiritual transformation.

We were sitting down having a cup of tea, chatting about various aspects of artistic life and the difficulties we encounter while we gaze at the three sculptures attached to the studio wall. Aisling paused in mid sentence and focusing on the large black wall piece announced "I think I’ll change the colour from a gloss black to a mat black".  This change would transform the sculpture from a confrontational object into a whispering shadow found in the mysterious light at dusk. I realised the artist had permitted me to witness creative decision making at its luminous source. Illuminating moments in the creative act are rarely shared, since most artists work in isolation. But moments gather and compress the timescape of a studio space as deadlines approach, so I begged my leave not wishing to intrude any longer. Moments cascade onwards, but they will find no idle corner to rest, during Aisling Conroy’s residency in Draíocht.







Aisling Conroy, 'Void I-IV', corrugated cardboard and enamel paint, 40cm x 40cm, 2011



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,

Des Kenny Reviews Una Sealy

November 28, 2012

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


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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Una Sealy,

Des Kenny Reviews John O’Reilly - Transient

September 20, 2012

20 September 2012


Smithfield Car Park, John O'Reilly (2012)


John O Reilly’s exhibition ‘Transient’ consists of seven oil paintings in Draíocht’s First Floor Gallery. John is better known as a graffiti artist and went under the tag name of JOR, his initials. He abstracted this graffiti name of JOR into large wall pieces, using spray cans. The graffiti artist rarely exhibits in a gallery environment except for a few well known exceptions, such as Basquait and Banksy. They prefer the anarchic freedom to display their creativity on the walls of disused buildings throughout our cities. This desire to remain outside the cultural structures of today’s society predominantly attracts youthful practitioners and audiences.


The paintings consist of views of our city that graffiti artists find popular. He knows these environments well and instead of using spray cans on vacant walls; his creativity is now channelled into fabricating paintings in a studio. This creates an inner tension, as the desire to reach out for the impulsive freedom of a spray can is restrained. The artist needs to focus intensely on his subject matter and hopefully control this capricious side of his nature. In these paintings this tension, though not self evident, lurks achingly just below the surface.


The paintings are small and intimate when compared to his graffiti work, which are large and envelop the viewer. Their main concern is the study of light, be it dull florescent strip lighting of concrete car parks and warehouses or the glaring light over a sombre city masked by cloud. The grey cool interior of ‘Smithfield Car Park’ is cast in the shaded gloom of white strip lighting while outside the streets intense daylight will cause pain as the eyes dilate sharply on leaving the car park. In ‘Ticket Machine’ the red light emanating from the machine relieves the enclosing shadows shrouded in bleakness. In ‘Cavern’ we are pitched downwards steeply into a vault like space, devised for vehicular traffic and too precipitous for people. An alien opening to a concrete underbelly of an anonymous office block designed for commerce and not for people.  


In daylight, against a nondescript sky, lurks a crane for container traffic, inactive but for the rusting air devouring it. Behind a warehouse, climbing weeds are beginning to renew natures claim on disused land. The paintings exude a quiet sense of loss and melancholy, for these sites are the remains of the Celtic Tiger. The airport lounge is a reminder of the heartbreak we know as our youth flee the country. ‘Patchwork’, is a study of two walls and snow as its white purity drains down a patchwork shore, like an unfulfilled dream dissolving into the sludge of regret. These paintings do not overtly offer a political stance but are quiet reflections on a lost opportunity, when property and greed took precedence over people and culture. Yet the title of the show ”TRANSIENT” denotes this hopelessness will pass in time.

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Artist John O'Reilly

When paintings leave an artist’s studio he surrenders, to a certain extent, his ideas and allows the audience introduce their thinking processes to the works. It’s this engagement with the viewer that transforms the painting into a work of art. Maybe an unknown visitor troubled by our economic plight will look at these works and find assurance. Perhaps these paintings might probe into that internal horizon where revelatory hope reclines waiting a summons to push back the dark tide. Perhaps this unknown visitor might feel their load lighten as the darkness recedes. Is this not a function of art? There are not seven paintings in Draíocht’s First Floor Gallery but seven works of art by JOHN O REILLY, primed in stillness, awaiting your thoughts.

 

Read more about John O'Reilly here 

John O’Reilly / Transient / FRI 14 SEP - SAT 10 NOV 2012  / FIRST FLOOR GALLERY

 

 

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.


Des Kenny, Rosie Fay & President of Ireland, Mary McAleese
 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, John O'Reilly,

Des Kenny Reviews Theresa Nanigian - not sorry

September 14, 2012

14 September 2012
 

Theresa Nanigian’s exhibition is situated in the Ground Floor Gallery of Draíocht. Titled “not sorry”, it is an exploration and insight into the lives and thoughts of teenage existence. The show entails cards with text and large photos. Theresa had placed a box in the foyer where teenagers could deposit their thoughts anonymously over the past year.



They were then collected and edited to a degree and printed onto card and placed on a corner wall. There are 65 cards which float in space slightly away from the wall. It all seems so reassuring; the cards written in lower case text, neatly placed forming a large rectangle. Capital letters are avoided, so one idea is supplanted by another. Then you begin to read - unearthed is a substrata of teenage consciousness. Swept along in a cascading torrent of teenage hopes, fears, triumphs and dreams, which although belonging to different personalities, they are connected by one emotional force - teenage angst.



At times uplifting and poignant “i am in love with penguins” and then disturbing,”I am afraid of dying” and “i wish my Dad had stayed”, to dreams awaiting fulfilment “i want to be a writer”. It is as if the electrical conduit conducting emotional life is not insulated and this sparks, burns and ignites the very air and space teenagers inhabit. Every neuron in the brain is firing together, creating a boundless thought storm.

The other theme of the show is large scale photos about 6x6 feet, investigating in loving detail, teenager’s bedrooms. These photos are fixed directly onto the wall with adhesive so the photo and wall occupy the same surface space. Creating the illusion of deep space on the gallery wall where the viewer becomes immersed in the content. The eye is sucked into photographic space and engages with every item, knowing this will reveal and describe the inner life of the teenager. Each bedroom is a portrait without the sitter’s presence. Their absence amplifies the space into a psychological realm in which we search for clues of identity. Barbells denote a masculine presence; pop stars festooned on walls indicate a female inhabitant. Clothes are scattered on floors with school books and chaos reigns.

On one wall is a large photo about 12 x 12feet in size and denotes a bedroom of a female. The composition hints at understanding by the artist of renaissance architecture and perspective. The bed takes centre stage and left and right are two wardrobes standing like two roman columns. The ceiling, an angled dome covered in graffiti arches over a tempestuous domain of a young female, stating her own individual persona. On the walls concert tickets mingle with pop stars and illegible written statements. A palm print declares ownership on a wardrobe door, a primordial display as found in caves of our distant ancestors. Yet the most telling psychological statement is found on the top of the wardrobes, all the childhood cuddly toys reside in plain view. Put away but not hidden, the childhood connection not yet severed.


Jacinta Shannon & daughter Sophie Shannon (owner of featured bedroom).


Under Theresa Nanigian’s gentle direction the participants grant us a glimpse into the heart rending turmoil of teenage life. The photographs, like continuity stills in films, denote the placement of each object on the set is correct and we await the actors return to act out their lines from the textual wall. We are granted permission to view their private realm as they reach out towards adult life. Theresa’s refined eye illuminates this endeavour and we leave the exhibition with a smile.

Des Kenny




Read more about Theresa Nanigian 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.


Des Kenny, Rosie Fay and President of Ireland Mary McAleese
 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Theresa Nanigian,

Des Kenny talks to Deirdre Byrne, Artist in Residence at Draíocht

May 1, 2012

May 2012

Deirdre Byrne is the current artist in residence at Draíocht Arts Centre.  The studio is a dominion to the creative act,  a world where achievement and failure walk hand in hand with certainty and doubt, imagination is allowed free reign, constrained only by material and monetary limitations. The artist pursues their goal on an emotional tightrope, balanced between art and artifice, without a safety net; in the hope their tempered talent alone will fabricate a work of art. This effusive high wire act can leave an artist emotionally compromised and susceptible to criticism. So with this concern in mind I left outside the studio, the critic’s cold eye and entered this seminal sphere instead to bear witness to the artist’s creative virtuosity.

We initially avoided relating to the art works but instead talked about the studio in Draíocht and laughed about studios in our past with no running water and frozen toilets , electrical outlets that only those with courage and suited in rubber gloves approached. We discussed the disabling costs of framing and trying to source materials for art. All this of course was to disguise my reticence in uttering a wrong word that may destroy a work of art reaching it’s full potential. Most art in a studio are works in progress, cultivated and unfurled petal by petal by the artists flowering imagination, and a withering word can end this journey. But eventually we relaxed in each other’s company and began to look and discuss the works.

Around the studio floor were arranged pen and ink drawings of various sizes. Deirdre looks at landscape not in a traditional descriptive manner but in a conceptual context. Some drawings charter the demise of the Celtic tiger and images of ghost estates float in clouds, harbouring a dark storm which laid waste to this country. In some areas the ink runs like tears through mascara tracing the blemishing effects of the emotional trauma arcing throughout this stunted land. In another drawing a bungalow has a ridiculous number of ornate chimneys protruding through the roof. In the distant past, a tax was charged to residents on the number of hearths found in a house. This tax was partially used to pay for pelts of wolves which roamed our country. Indeed The Blanchardstown Centre now resides on land that was part of a great forest, where wolves roamed. Deirdre takes up this theme in a number of drawings. Wolves walk through a structure which is reminiscent of the town centre. The intersection of past and present are fused together, revealing the connections between the ancient ravaging of our land and the present endowment of calamity we visited upon ourselves. It’s as if Deirdre is professing that the wounds of the past, must find some resolution before we treat today’s desolation.

There were paintings on wood in a germinal state not fully realised but have potential and perhaps we shall see them on the walls of Draíocht in June2012 when Deirdre will have a solo show.

I have a ragged worn belief that art can transform society and on leaving Draíocht, looking across the concourse of the town centre, Deirdre’s art seeded my imagination with ancient forests and roaming wolves and I asked forgiveness for their destructive demise. With my perception of past and present amplified and those ancient shades fading from my mind, that fugitive faith in arts redemptive powers were reinforced.


Deirdre Byrne is Artist in Residence in Draíocht from July 2011 to June 2012.

Deirdre Byrne with Emer McGowan, Director Draiocht


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.

Des Kenny, Rosie Fay and President of Ireland Mary McAleese

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Deirdre Byrne, Desmond Kenny,

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