21 July 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition DIC TAT, a joint exhibition of drawings by Marie Hanlon and sound works by Rhona Clarke.
Friday 18 July - Saturday 06 September 2014
GROUND FLOOR GALLERY
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Sarah O'Neill, Assistant Arts Officer, Fingal County Council with
Composer Rhona Clarke & Artist Marie Hanlon at the Opening Night.
Music and the visual arts have a long history of collaboration and have found common ground in the cross fertilisation of their creative practice. Stravinsky and Picasso worked together with Diaghilev’s ballet company, while composer John cage and visual artist Robert Rauschenburg collaborated with dancer Merce Cunningham; Yoko Ono’s performance art had a profound impact on British minimalist composers.
Visual artist Marie Hanlon and composer Rhona Clarke have maintained this historical bond between two disciplines and cooperated jointly to create the exhibition DIC TAT in the Ground Gloor Gallery of Draiocht. The common denominator in this show is the functional use of the metronome by artist and composer, permitting its pulsating rhythm to influence the structure and boundaries of the works created. Prime examples of this methodology are drawings by Marie Hanlon governed by the recurrent beat of the metronome.
This process is described on two computer screens placed together. On one screen a metronome is filmed as the regimented pendulum swings back and forth on slow and fast cycles. The other screen depicts a drawing fashioned by the regular tempo of the metronome. The speed of the rhythmic pendulum dictates the drawings composition, on higher beat cycles the artist had only time to place dots of charcoal on the page whilst the lower beat pattern permitted the artist longer intervals of time to determine direction of line, its length or curvature. Seven drawings of equal size created by this procedure crave space on a small wall with a flurry of intense mark making. The marks have a pulsing urgency, choreographed by the sequential ticking of the metronome and swirl over susceptible pages like a dancer moving across a naked stage. The commanding marks of formal abstraction have a synonymous connection with musical notation.
Rhona Clarke’s music is listened through earphones placed on plinths throughout the gallery space. In the first piece STILETTO, the metronome’s grinding pulse guides the sounds of tongue clicks, knocking and cello. This framework subsides as improvisation aids the release of an emotional subtext. The ear anointed by sound cannot help release images that gather behind the eye, enveloping the listener with a surprised impassioned response to the loud knocking at the end of the piece. The imagination introduces a narrative element, evoking a caller knocking loudly on a closed door while those within remain silent refusing to answer. The cloistered formalism that encloses music to an arrangement of sounds without meaning does not gain a foothold in Rhona Clarke’s score. Canon begins with a plunging momentum, scurrying forward with rolling notes from the piano on a fleeing journey to a distant reckoning. Repeating note patterns almost dissolve into ambivalence as the pianist’s fingers try to maintain control over a runaway pulsing pattern of a speeding metronome. The piece ends on a spellbound single note, like a relieved full stop ending a rampaging sentence. A number of sharp atonal resonant notes begin the piece called Forethought as the piano searches for internal forms that appear to correspond to the composers desire to allow music grow within its own existent logic. There is a short fused harmonic melody that disintegrates, allowing room and space for further possibilities to occur, as if the discovered answer is put aside to pose more questions. In Takeover a rapid echoing bell-like sounds vibrates ominously while a mellow guitar cadence acts as a counterbalance leaving the piece poised perilously in a weightless shroud of harmonic balance.
Twenty drawings by Marie Hanlon are dispersed imaginatively on a wall like notes on a musical score. The drawings resemble a visual reaction to music while not alluding to any specific musical composition. These drawings are not premeditated but allow music influence and guide the forlorn artists hand across the inquisitive but stubborn empty page. The artists pencil operates like a tremulous recording needle cutting a soundtrack onto a record.
A shared philosophical and open ended attitude to process in creating a work of art, allows the visual artist and composer coexist and collaborate while maintaining separate identities. Art unbound, shares the spoils of the imagination with the open hearted and these two artists shoulder this reciprocal vision collectively.
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.