Des Kenny Reviews Jim Cathcart

February 28, 2014

17 February 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Jim Cathcart ...

Jim Cathcart
Friday 14 February - Saturday 19 April 2014 
GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES
‘Them that work the hardest …’ - Ground Floor Gallery
'Selected Works on Paper' - First Floor Gallery
Read more … here 




The desire for an earthly paradise is found in cultural echoes of human mythology, embedded in stories like the Garden of Eden, Tir na nOg and the lost world of Atlantis. These fabled worlds permitted mankind to live free and fulfil all human expectations in a spirit of joy. The inclination to construct a society where humanity overcomes its limitations and lives in peace and harmony is still ingrained in human psych even if these attempts have generally proved disastrous.


Jim Cathcart’s large banner murals hanker for a paradise where the citizen is free to live, in balance with nature and in refined fellowship with each other. In one mural a man is about to place a toy boat in a river; by his right hand side people work the land gathering bountiful crops and to his left is an image of hands working in solidarity on industrial products which free all from a fate of drudgery granting free time to play. He places his toy boat into waters free of turbulence knowing this act of playfulness is his euphoric reward for a belief in an ideal society.

In another mural, the dual natures  of man, light and dark, good and evil no longer do battle for mans soul but these disparate facets combine in accord, to benefit all. In another image a man holds up a page to the light of a full silver moon where perhaps are written the sacred credo of quintessential laws which will hold a faultless society together. He stands assured by mystical moon light, proof reading the new constitution which will govern all and become the salvation of mankind. Yet there lies a flaw in this earthly heaven, a deceit, where for the greater good anything which would undermine society is instinctively silenced.


A mural divided into four sections, seems to depict an industrial accident, a man wears a gas mask for protection, an industrial glove cannot prevent the poison escaping causing damage to the genetic structure of living organisms. In the painting a woman’s mouth is bound and prevented from speaking about the unsafe practices which led to the disaster. Yet overall these works have an optimistic atmosphere portraying an expectation that alternatives to our current political systems are possible but first we must dream of their existence before reality welcomes their arrival.

Six paintings of wandering musicians hang together, rendered in mooted tones that weave a spell of tranquillity. They appear to be enveloped in that cusp of silence before sound announces its presence. In the provenance of their stillness they listen to that internal rhythm which populates the heart and from this primal source, create music.




Arrayed on the walls upstairs in Draiocht’s First Floor Gallery are Jim Cathcart’s graphic works. They include limited edition prints, watercolours and gouache on paper. In three images a large pyramid shaped rock breeches the surface of the sea. At one moment it appears to float above the sea as its base is obscured by mist and in another the summit is covered by storm clouds as a tumultuous seas rage against its indomitable cliffs. It stands immutable as if awaiting the arrival of Noah’s ark. In still lifes that bear striking resemblance to the rock pictures the artist has perched on the top a pebble and a shell. The symmetrical still life seeks to explore the precarious tight rope balancing act of nature’s structures which can descend into chaos with interference from human contact

Various pastel drawings of pebbles, shaped by pounding waves harbour the passing mystery of time. Clocks without dials measuring time from the earth’s beginning pose for the artists finite eyes. Hooded crows and pigeons are scrutinised by the artist. A pigeon in ‘40 miles from Malaga’ holds the air with certainty as it finds a way home with doubtless conviction while a hooded crow stares with laconic intelligence at the viewer. A pastel drawing of a leaf on the verge of decomposition covered in dark blemishes hints at the unthinkable demise of the self for lives like leaves have their season.
 

Jim Cathcart
Friday 14 February - Saturday 19 April 2014 
GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES
‘Them that work the hardest …’ - Ground Floor Gallery
'Selected Works on Paper' - First Floor Gallery
Read more … here 

Video Archive ... here ... and 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, Jim Cathcart,

Des Kenny Reviews Mary Burke - Memory Traces

November 27, 2013

22 November 2013

Mary Burke - Memory Traces
23 November 2013 – 01 February 2014
GROUND FLOOR GALLERY
Read more … here 



Memories reassemble realities glaring facts to accommodate obsessive feelings associated with places we inhabit. These feelings may not help form a greater holistic perspective but tend to fragment our recollections into parts that collectively do not add up. Mary Burke’s show in Draíocht examines the fragmentation of reality by memory. Paintings are divided into sections; each segment depicts a different aspect of both interior and exterior dwellings. They create a jigsaw pattern which a viewer assembles to fit an emotional template accumulated in the blind storehouses of the mind. This thought process connects the viewer and artist as they jointly share the same passionate space.




The first three paintings encountered in the gallery depict a suburban home. Where we have dwelt in formative years has a profound effect on our psychological makeup. No doubt in later life the artist has discovered that disjointed memories collaged together creates intense emotions that realistic facts lack.



In “Descend”, the painting is cropped in four images, revealing a staircase, an open door, a section of stained glass and another view of an open door. There is a melancholic sense of loss as home ties are disconnected, a rupture that confines the interior scene to the shaping past whilst the ecstatic promise of the future calls beyond the beckoning open door. The doorway is a threshold that must be passed, leaving behind the safe haven of home towards an uncertain fate fashioned by personal destiny.

In “ Flashback” we are shown different interior details of the same home and the title hints at its meaning. A memory may resurface unexpectedly, recalled by a scent, a sound or memorabilia and its sudden re-emergence can unbalance the controlled trajectory of our life. We search for significance to the dramatic outpouring of imagery released from our mind and on finding none we feel unhinged.

The painting titled “Recall” examines the exterior of the house as if access is denied because the family home is under new ownership. A lawful barrier excludes entry to that welcoming touchstone of fading memories we call home.

School days are resurrected in “Alma Matter 1 & 2 “. Long corridors are angled abruptly to staircases travelling to depths and heights in a claustrophobic maze which turns upon itself, devouring wisdom. Teenage rebellion is held in check by rules and polished floors. Reflective sunlight on blank walls silently reminds that liberty waits patiently outside.



“Labyrinth” is a title of one painting and it is the most abstract work in the show. Difficult to interpret because splintered into so many parts, it’s decoding is problematic. Checkerboard images revealing parts of walls, windows and floors offer no clues to the anonymous building or the connection to the artist. Modern buildings seem to discourage personal attachments.



The painting called “Equilibrium” depicts a modern dwelling adjacent to an image of a suburban home while the lower sections show a modern interior beside a cultivated garden anchored by two large boulders. A building that one can occupy which evokes harmony secluded from turbulent reality is a basic desire. A place were reflective past and golden future orbit around the momentary present is called home. As the artist has revealed the buildings she has inhabited from parental home, through schools and places of work she has come full circle, found a dwelling she calls her own and the foundation of this abode is the imagination where all artists reside.


Mary Burke - Memory Traces
23 November 2013 – 01 February 2014
GROUND FLOOR GALLERY
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, Mary Burke,

Des Kenny talks to Kathy Herbert, Artist in Residence at Draíocht

November 19, 2013

18 November 2013

Kathy Herbert is the current Artist in Residence and has use of the Draíocht’s Artist Studio for six months. Kathy’s practice entails mapping, cataloguing and documenting her encounters with the natural environment in the immediate vicinity of Draíocht. Festooned around the studio walls are large and small drawings, all jostling for attention. Two tables are integrated to form a large work top, strewn with painting materials and pieces of cut paper, awaiting the artist’s creative intervention. Against a pillar, inert rocks and a feather repose, reluctant to reveal their secret. Thin wire sculpture of animated insects, populate the far side of the pillar, clumped together, craving freedom. On a table secluded in a corner lies a dormant laptop and open notebooks denote where sparkling scribbled conversations have found a home. The centre of the large studio is uncluttered, allowing measured access to all the projects on the studios periphery. Objects that occupy the edge of an artist’s vision blur and form unintended structures which can enliven an artist’s imagination. The mysterious pulse of the creative act is energised by the studios orientation and every artist’s format is different.



In a series of drawings, insects and birds are captured in an intense calligraphic urgency of mark making. Movement through space is granted superiority over descriptive form. Spectral crows tangle the croaking air with serrated wings, a bulbous bee hovers hesitantly and clustered long legged insects gyrate in an aerial dance. While making these drawings, the artist would engage with people out shopping and record in notebooks what was said to her. People will ask”what are you doing”, “is it finished yet” and “do you make money”. This discourse finds its way into her work. Drawings of denuded trees, accept these words in place of displaced leaves, language replacing the rustling sound of nature. We laugh together at the phrase “do you make money”. We share in the belief that art and its practice cannot find true value in comparison with monetary evaluation. Truth and beauty are the standards artists use to define their work and these commodities are not noted on the stock exchange. They are found in the priceless heritage of dreams which bind a people.



Our shared laughter eases the tension as the artist displays and talks about her practice. It’s difficult to expose works, unfinished to the critical eye. A misguided remark may destroy the embryonic development of a work of art. Our mutual passion for art overcomes the tense atmosphere that exists between artist and critic. This permits a deeper review of her project charting natural occurrences surrounding Draíocht. She photographs fallen leaves and numbers their position with chalk.


At times only a stain marks its fall, a ghostly semblance of natures passing. She bears witness to the forgotten lament of fallen leaves resurging essence lost on unforgiving tarmac. Recording these small natural events amidst the ravenous consuming bustle of a shopping centre may appear ludicrous to some, yet the artist insists these revelatory experiences of nature, open up that silent centre in our humanity where calm and peace abide.


The pursuit of consumerism inhibits quiet reflection. There is a map of the shopping centre were the artist traces her movements on daily forays into the natural environs around Draíocht. As a sculptor, she’s interested in how urban space controls our lives and confines our reaction to nature. In a previous project of drawings, she displayed GPS co-ordinates of trees and using this information, the street location of each tree was established. The artist becomes a pathfinder, leading the way over old ground, showing how to see it anew.

The artist has displayed drawings of swirling leaves in the studio windows for the observance of passing shoppers. As I pass, pausing to wonder uncertainly if leaves have dreams, I’m assured natures streaming consciousness has found a champion in the dreaming hands of Kathy Herbert.





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, Kathy Herbert,

Des Kenny Reviews Nicole Tilley

October 15, 2013

Nicole Tilley
When all the Riches That We Boast Consists in Scraps of Paper and Balloons
11 October – 23 November 2013  FIRST FLOOR GALLERY





Nicole Tilley’s work incorporates the primal forces of dreams, personal myths and children’s stories with the staged forms of pictorial melodramas that help unravel secrets of the furtive elements that preside over our interior life. The artist employs the Victorian technique of cutting paper silhouettes to produce tales of enhancing illumination and infringing darkness with diverting simplicity. Nicole eschews complex details which would interfere and muddle the viewer’s analysis of the storyline.


‘One Fine Morning’

A good example of this minimal approach is found in ‘One Fine Morning’, where a figure caught in a fishing hook is trying to free itself from an unfathomable burden in the shape of a silver trinket. This simplicity of means, using just two fishing hooks, a piece of fishing line, a cut out figure and silver pendant, delivers instantly the unbearable message that sometimes we cannot free ourselves from the tragic consequences of consuming destructive impulses.



‘One Fine Evening’

In a similar stark fashion ‘One Fine Evening’ is constructed with fishing line, cut out figure, foxes tooth, small desiccated rose and a silver charm. The figure poised above these hanging items has a fetish dream like aura that may help ward off the temporal evils of careering reality.



‘Dear Companion’

Another aspect of Nicole’s work is the use of shadows to render a sense of movement within a silent static environment. The figures are fixed with the use of pins above a white background and the angled lights of the gallery produce numerous shadows which animate the white mounting board. A poignant application of shadows is found in ‘Dear Companion’ where two complimentary figures reach out to each other but do not connect. Pinned down like butterflies in a glass vitrine, unable to move, desire impeded by reality, yet their shadows escape their restraints and briefly touch. In the shadow land of dreams we can overcome our bonds and then begin to transcend the limits of material existence.


'When all the Riches that we Boast Consists in Scraps of Paper and Balloons'

In many works the use of light and shadow grants a fantastical characteristic to inert figures, by which they seem to take flight. A balloon appears to lift a grounded child, the tangled hair of a delighted girl seems to catch the wind and hoist her above the earth. The blissful gaiety of a child’s imagination is released by the tension evoked by shadows trying to elude their makers.



Notebook detail

In a number of works, notebooks are utilised to create a background for the cut-out figures. It is, as if, the written word has left the page to create stories in a pictorial format, prose invades the three dimensional realm. A macabre interpretation of the aphorism ”do not lose your head by allowing your heart govern” is realised in the work ‘Between the Trains’ were a headless bereft figure, tangled in ribbon, hovers above a train track.



Centred in the gallery space is a glass receptacle which contains an old jewellery box. A small horse is positioned beneath an open lid, festooned in ribbon, jewels and fly fishing hooks. On close examination a small cut-out figure of a girl on a bike seems to be whirling out of the boxes stuffy demesne. The work exudes an atmospheric feeling of loss for a past full of childhood’s magical certainty and an entranced engagement with the world. The doubting adult and resolute child can gain sustenance together from this show and celebrate delight in the shared domain of the imagination.



Nicole TilleyWhen all the Riches That We Boast Consists in Scraps of Paper and Balloons
11 October – 23 November 2013  
FIRST FLOOR GALLERY
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, Nicole Tilley,

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
07 JUNE – 31 AUGUST 2013  FIRST FLOOR GALLERY
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,

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