Des Kenny Reviews Expanding Spaces by Robert Kelly

October 10, 2016

10 October 2016 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews 'Expanding Spaces' by Robert Kelly ...

Abstraction has no other purpose but to be of itself, simultaneously distinctive and paradoxical. At times existing outside the tangled realm of words, inexplicably defying the desire of language to categorise it. The elusive quality of non-objective art appeals to many contemporary artists since it accommodates any strategy or theory while remaining ambiguous about any infallible final truth.  Robert Kelly’s show in Draiocht of abstract prints and drawings uses a number of elemental signs such as the triangle, square, circle and curved forms to explore the nature of pictorial space whilst indirectly referencing the subliminal space of the imagination.

On folded paper blue squares, green triangles and purple circles are run through the printing press but these rudimentary forms fragment as the paper is unfurled. The tension of this shuddering disruption across the paper surface reaches out to the viewer to reassemble the shapes in their mind. The graphic reality of the print exercises the viewer’s imagination to make connections and restore order to the splintered narrative of the imagery.

In another print presented on a square sheet of paper, circular forms are pulled asunder as the folded paper is restored to its original state. A great area of white paper disrupts the printed image like a crack appearing after the movement of tectonic plates across the earth. One blue circle moves from the printed surface into the compressed subterranean space of the indented white paper as if trying to manipulate the physical order of the composition before it disintegrates. By allowing chance dictate the outcome of the pictorial plane may imply that any measured principle of certainty we have is illusory.

A series of charcoal drawings display a calmer approach compared to the disruptive ideas pursued in the first five prints. These square drawings are folded in a manner which leaves horizontal, vertical and diagonal marks embedded in the paper. This underlying structure creates a scaffold upon which gentle curved marks find placement in an ordered construct. Mirrored images are formed when the paper is folded and put through the printing press creating symmetrical shapes that are balanced. The artist counters this informed symmetry created during the printing process by working over the paper with marks made in pastel that float above the uniform design. These intuitive marks made without the use of a printing press depend wholly upon the reflective touch of the artist hand and integrates the makers artistic personality more richly into the process.

The work called Entropy is made of sixteen prints on grey buff paper which combine to create a large square format where curved forms dance like musical notation. The repeated arabesques vary slightly on each page as if in a state of flux but moving towards dissolution. In The Wind of Change the notional marks are more strident and the diagonal creases lift the prints away from the wall. A symbolic turbulence ripples across the surface of the prints, where a reckoning wind will transform everything.

A large installation piece hangs from the ceiling, undulating like the serpentine form of a Chinese dragon. Seeming to catch the light and movement of the scurrying white clouds reflected in the large windows. Imprisoned, it yearns to take flight from the restraints of the gallery and let the tilting wind lift it up on silvery clouds. In folded sculpture square sheets of creased paper race upwards from the floor towards a vanishing point upon the gallery’s highest wall. A vertiginous sense of speed is felt as the square sheets reduce in size the higher the sculpture climbs up the stark white wall.

Robert Kelly is a restless printmaker who uses non-traditional printmaking techniques to excavate the hidden riches inherent in the medium.

Read more about Robert'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.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Robert Kelly,

Expanding Spaces by Robert Kelly Opens on 24 September 2016

September 12, 2016


Artist Robert Kelly tells us a bit more about his forthcoming exhibition in Draiocht's Ground Floor Gallery:

Expanding Spaces is an exploration of liminal spaces as explored through the medium of drawing and printmaking, where the boundaries between both disciplines can sometimes seem blurred. The printmaking work in this series is currently focused around the use of creased and folded paper works. The work is studio based, that is to say it does not refer to outside imagery. While the work is non-pictorial and non-representational it is in fact an attempt to understand the natural order. Linear devices in the form of circles, squares and triangles plus other irregular linear shapes along with folds and creases in the print paper are used to explore spatial relationships. The works are less about image than they are about space and our perception of space.

Ideas and concepts from biomedical science and astrophysics can inform the work but the work is not an illustration of such ideas. The work is ultimately about itself and all that that implies. There is a sense in which the artist allows the medium to suggest possibilities even to the point of allowing the image in part to print itself. This is evident in the use of offsets as a result of creases and folds in the printing paper. This alludes to the notion of things happening from within. Being process led is another way of saying that it is the occurrences that happen while working which lead to future possibilities for image making.

Another aspect of the process influence on the work is the use of incidental elements used in registration and trial drawings being incorporated into and reshaping outcomes. In this way the drawing and the print process have at times merged and the detritus from one job has become the starting point for the next. The print /drawings are also a way of reducing the print process to its most basic level at times opening up its creative potential. It also throws up questions such as: What is an original print?  What is a print reproduction?  Preoccupations with themes such as a space between, bending space and expanding spaces emerge through a process led and playful approach to the media used. Spectator focus is thus directed not only to materiality but also to visual and perceptual occurrences taking place within the works. These are works that require attention and contemplation.

Robert is a graduate of Dun Laoghaire School of Art and Design, the National College of Art and Design and Trinity College, Dublin. His work is held in public collections by Louth County Council, County Monaghan VEC and in corporate and private collections in Ireland and Internationally.

Robert has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions with many group shows being curator led. Recent exhibitions include Interconnectedness - Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda (2014)(solo exhibition). Selected group exhibitions include: Legacy -National Print Exhibition, Hyde Bridge Gallery Sligo (2016); Establish Change - Basement Gallery An Tain Arts Centre, Dundalk (2015); U Turn -The Library Project, 4 Temple Bar, Curated by Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll (2015); Mini Print International Seacourt Print Workshop, Bangor (2016 and 2014); Hot off the Press - Gormley’s Gallery, Lisburn Road, Belfast curated by Stuart Cannell (2014).

Robert is a member of Black Church Print Studio Dublin since 2010. He undertook a Cill Rialaig Residency Award in Ballinskelligs in September 2015.

Draiocht's Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.


Further information

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Robert Kelly,

Des Kenny Reviews Any Observer by Jason Deans

July 8, 2016

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.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Jason Deans,

Sharon Murphy will be working with Draiocht as Curator

March 21, 2016

Visual Arts in Draíocht


Draíocht is delighted to announce that Sharon Murphy will be working with us from March to December 2016 as Curator (part time). She will be working to refresh and refine our visual arts policy and programme. She will focus on connecting Draíocht’s context and priorities with artists and the public to develop a dynamic and engaging programme of exhibitions and projects in 2017. Her commitment to her own photographic practice as well as her extensive experience in arts provision for children and young people, in public art and in wider cultural strategy makes her a valuable addition to our team. Her appointment underlines our commitment to contemporary visual arts as part of a wider policy and strategy for Draíocht.

Sharon Murphy is an independent visual art curator and photographer based in Dublin. Previously she has worked in a range of key roles in arts, culture and education contexts including Director of Education, Abbey Theatre. Sharon has developed and managed a number of initiatives for artists including residencies, bursaries and exchanges and most recently she has commissioned public art under the Per Cent for Art scheme in a range of settings. She holds an MA in Modern Drama, a BA in Fine Art Photography and was the Irish recipient of the 2007/2008 Jerome Hynes Fellowship on the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme (UK).

You can contact Sharon on

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Sharon Murphy,

Des Kenny Reviews Glimpse by Ruth McDonnell

March 4, 2016

04 March 2016 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Ruth McDonnell ... 

Glimpse is the current exhibition of paintings, prints and drawings by Ruth McDonnell in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery running until 07 May 2016.
The nostalgic longing to restore a decaying past before it recedes into the domain of the forgotten can cultivate ingratiating sentimental art forms that appear dysfunctional to the needs of contemporary society. The former cinemas that interest the artist are now carpet warehouses or part of apartment complexes. They perform a different function in today’s society and their former glory in the entertainment of the masses is now redundant.

Ruth McDonnell has avoided a maudlin sugar coated pitfall while exploring the loss of old cinema houses and the passing era of popular entertainment by paring down their representation to abstract elemental forms. This reduction does not eliminate the emotional attachment to this period but intensifies its poignancy. The facade of the Metropole cinema is whittled down to a basic rectangle form with a tentative triangle on top. This form in yellow ochre is held resolutely fringed by grey in the centre of a small wooden panel. Under-painting of red separates yellow and grey like a deterrent that delineates the paint surface. Descriptive reality competes with the formal abstract language of paint and this dual character concentrates the image with additional painterly tension within the cradled space of a rectangular panel. In the Stella Terenure a wider range of colour holds the image playfully, centre stage. Greens and pinks combine with shades of blue formulating a rich painterly surface. The building seems to emanate from a memory of a bright summer’s afternoon where happiness and time crystallised momentarily, sleepwalking past the rudeness of reality. Such moments become embedded in the human psyche where the inaudible search for happiness is measured.

The etching “Heres looking at you” recalls the famous line delivered by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 film Casablanca. The memorable words were said by Rick to Ilsa as she boarded a plane to leave Casablanca and these few words embedded their love story forever into celluloid and popular culture. The etching reveals a green curtain descending at the end of the film and a glimmer of the   silver screen still remains caught on the retina of a spellbound audience. The etching is a fluid rendition of a falling curtain. This is achieved by technique in printmaking called spit biting. Acid is applied to a copper plate with a brush, allowing a more painterly image adhere to the copper plate.

A similar technique is used in Once upon a time where a liquid red flows and spills beyond the linear structure of a recently vacated cinema seat. As if the thermal residue of emotional engagement with a film still remains long after a patron has left the cinema.

Various drawings tracing the contour of cinema roof tops silhouetted against the skyline explore the formal qualities of the art deco structures inherent in these buildings. The modulated forms haunt the suffocating night sky like echoes of past glories which are forgotten. They seem at times like snapshots of forlorn tombstones unvisited in a graveyard.

Another pervasive theme in these drawings is the circular spotlight shining on the cinema curtains. Dark vertiginous lines made with charcoal race vertically downwards over the paper, stopping sharply short of a white circle which emerges light filled from the blank page. It is a rudimentary exercise but these spare actions release understated abstract patterns that have a realistic interpretation. Chalk and gesso drawings create with simple gestures, vestigial images bordering the hinterland which exists between abstraction and realism. The edges of a white rectangle emerge from three broad strokes of black gesso while the papers clean margin contains the shape. Horizontal black conte marks stride across the lower part of the drawing. In the formal abstract language of modern art a rectangle and horizontal lines can stand aloof without further investigation but equally the same image is read as the silver screen in a cinema with rows of seats. The shifting ground of both viewpoints intensifies the rendered image and adds vitality to these works.


Read more about Ruth'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.

Leave a comment / 0 Comments

By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Ruth McDonnell,

‹ First  < 2 3 4 5 6 >  Last ›