Des Kenny Reviews Heartscapes - Drawings by Sharon Kelly
10 May 2018
Drawing is a universal terminology used by all when language fails to register meaning. It is readily understandable when a foreign tongue gets lost in translation and barriers to dialogue need a recognised resolution. The first elemental scribbles a child makes connect the subjective primal imagination with objective reality and this first intimate connection with creativity is the foundation on which artists build their career.
Sharon Kelly’s artistic career is centred on drawing and her expressive graphic works are exhibited in the Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery. The works are less descriptive interpretations of reality but are driven by subliminal impassioned forces that can transform how the objective world is confronted. The loss of her father challenged the artist to examine his passing by drawing his working clothes and implements. His pick and hammer are shrouded in the dominion of darkness slipping away from memories foothold in the present and fade into the forgetting realm of the past. His coat barely discernible in the gray shadow of a faceless landscape, possessed by his absence, is about to shrivel and disappear from the artists grieving gaze. A large drawing of her father’s failing fist plunges diagonally downward towards a welcoming earth where calloused hands are softened and redeemed by nature.
The jagged tear in the fabric of existence caused by the loss of a loved one is further examined in COT and the video LIFE DRAWING. The stark drawing of a Childs hospital cot stands out sharply against the white ground of the paper where illness stifles youthful promise as the looming metal bars imprison without release to full health. The cot is empty but abides patiently for the next patient to benignly harness in hopeless confinement. The animated video of the cot introduces the viewer to an infant whose presence shimmers briefly with life but ebbs and disappears, leaving a hollowed emptiness which even art cannot fill. Yet the artist has no recourse but to return to art, which heals the wound of loves loss and come to terms with the wrenching whims of merciless fate.
The artist becomes her own model in a series of self-portraits, unearthing glimpses of an internal realm generally held at bay from scrutiny in daily life. The surface layers of protection projected in public are stripped away and laid bare for all to see. In ‘Doubt’, a thinly fashioned line denoting a head is covered by a jaggedly torn piece of paper unveiling a darker persona hidden in the shadows, waiting to emerge. In another work the artist is locked in place by two clouds silently squeezing hazed eyes, searching for reprieve from untouchable depression. Flaring red lipstick is applied to smiling lips in another drawing and the vacuum of despair is filled with affirmative laughter.
Placed geometrically in a grid pattern on the largest wall in the Ground Floor Gallery are fifty six works, each offering gestural vignettes that collectively create a tapestry of revelatory insights into the human psyche. A head is filled with a forest of trees unable to escape the tangling branches. Dark forms in splatters of ink form a head waiting to devour a running figure. Each page absorbs marks and splatters of the artist hand onto the white surface like a sponge soaking up accidental spillage on a table top. Raw emotions and clinging memories spill and swirl across these drawings, searching for meaning and illumination that help endure the ordeals and woes of life through a cathartic art form.
Draiocht's Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.
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.