Artist Robert Ryan features a motif of nondescript four-legged creatures in otherworldly landscapes in his first solo show at the Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin. In The Passage of Time, the Limerick-born artist explores themes of solitude, evolution and spirituality through soft colours and gentle brush strokes, expressing a clear love of nature in his ethereal, small-scale paintings.The works feature the artist's signature mix of familiar natural elements with futuristic overtones, which the artist says are inspired by 19th century Romantic painting and "the sublime beauty of nothingness created by Mark Rothko". The arresting mix of philosophical themes with classical composition appear to question the place of humans in the natural world.
‘Gingles and Gingles’ is a collaborative exhibition at Dublin’s Peppercanister Art Gallery between father/ daughter artists Graham and Lisa Gingles. Born in Larne Co Antrim, Gingles Sr is well known for his complex and intriguing sculptures. These are usually housed in hand made boxes or reliquaries, although sometimes recently an old suitcase has served this purpose. Based in Valencia Spain, Lisa Gingle’s works are small, feminine drawings, overlaid on reclaimed pages and manuscripts- playful and fun and with a strong gothic undertow of foreboding, mixed with dark humour. Images of memory and place mixed with despair and resolution create an interesting dialougue between two generations of this talented artistic family. Gingles and Gingles 7-30 September.
Conor Walton explains about his painting process – technique, theory and material, a combination resulting in sublime figuration.
I see myself as essentially a figurative painter in the European tradition, attempting to maintain my craft at the highest level, using paint to explore issues of truth, meaning and value. All my paintings are attempted answers to the three questions in the title of Gauguin’s famous painting: ‘What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?’
My starting point for a figure painting is usually an ‘idea’ that is developed, in collaboration with the model, through a series of drawings and painting studies before it reaches the final canvas. Because the starting point is an ‘idea’ or mental image, there is a strong imaginative element in this sort of painting: I work with the model in order to strengthen this mental image, using the model to find what I want to see, rather than simply observing and copying what is before me. There is much trial and error in this process. Even in the final stages I try to paint freely and spontaneously, often subjecting the pictures to drastic revision, obliterating and repainting areas repeatedly until they ‘work’. All this takes time: paintings can take months and even years to reach completion in this way. But I believe the results of this method are incomparable and well worth the effort artistically.
To some extent ‘Veiled’ is simply an old-fashioned exercise in chiaroscuro, understood not simply as ‘light-and-shade’ but as it sometimes used to be translated; ‘clair-obscure’. Light itself is here understood as an agent of clarity, but in its encounter with air and matter it is deflected, scattered and obstructed in such complex ways that its revelation is always only partial and teasing.
With the painted objects frontally lit, the transition from clarity to obscurity within this picture is also a journey from surface into depth, drawing us from the superficially self-evident towards unfathomable darkness.
The bags are painted quite texturally with crisply impasted lights and something like a physical approximation of the thin plastic. What’s in the bags is barely indicated, but because the surface of the bag and the effect of light transmitted through it is so truthful, I think the viewer will tend to accept it as a convincing token of the riches contained within.
I believe the original marble bust is called ‘Veiled Lady’, circa 1860, by Raffaelle Monti (mine is a plaster copy). Sculptures of this sort have long been popular because they display such virtuosity in their surface effects. These effects are deployed in a complex, almost painterly way, using the play of light and shade over the form to create an illusion of translucency and of a surface beneath the surface.
The veiled figure thus reinforces my reflection on painterly virtuosity and the play of surface against depth within the painting ― a ‘doubling’ which emphasises that this play is not an accidental feature of the picture, but its principal theme. Placed centrally and facing the viewer, she is also a sort of mirror-image of the beholder, a reminder that for us perception is inevitably clouded, that our struggle to separate appearance from reality is never complete.
At the centre of this painting is an illustration in a book showing how the path of projectiles launched from an earth-like body is affected by their speed and by the force of gravity. It’s the sort of illustration that one often finds in books on physics and spaceflight; the earliest version is found in Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687). It’s the sort of illustration that has fascinated me since childhood, condensing so many concepts into a few lines – matter, space, energy, force, the bounded and the unbounded – that it’s like a little ideogram of the universe.
One might also take it as embodying the Faustian aspect of western civilisation: its belief in matter, force and energy; its claims to mastery of nature; a will-to-power that recognises no limits, dreaming even of the ‘conquest of space’.
My painting is really an elaboration of these ideas. I sought to create in the figure holding the book a worthy exponent of the ideas contained within it, and a deep space behind the figure that renders viscerally what is only implied by the illustration.
The man holding the book dominates the painting; his forceful pose and features express confidence and authority; he asserts his knowledge and power almost as a challenge to the viewer. How one responds to this challenge is for me an open question. I’ve sought to render this figure as powerfully as I can, yet I think the painting embodies my own ambivalence about him. Given the Faustian theme of this picture it’s probably inevitable that he has a demonic, Mephistophelean air about him.
Compositionally, the picture is very much a contest of curves and rectangles. The ideologue and his sacred book are dominated by verticals and horizontals that resonate with the rectangular frame of the image and assert its frontal planarity, its surface. The space that curves around him and leads the eye off into the painting’s depths embody a different set of values that form an implicit critique of his dominance.
It’s taken for granted that paintings are normally rectangular, part of the ensemble of rectilinear forms that permeate the manufactured human environment. Rectangles are hardly ever found in nature, however, because they tend to be rigid, immobile, brittle: anything that grows or moves is built out of curves which allow it to flex when bearing stress, to follow paths of least resistance. While I usually accept the rectangular format of painting, I find that, as I’ve striven to make my pictures ever more natural-looking, I’ve developed an aversion to horizontal and vertical lines within the image. As axes they retain huge importance, but as lines or boundaries I do my best to get rid of them; many of my paintings have no vertical or horizontal lines at all. Where they remain, they serve an emphatic purpose, both compositionally and semantically. This is certainly true in ‘The Lesson’ where verticals and horizontals mark lines of stress between man and nature.
Despite the frontal forcefulness that the rectilinear forms lend the figure in this painting, I think that in the contest of forms that the image embodies, the curves are the ultimate winners. They express a flexible order, enveloping, unifying, complete. Their victory is suggested by the book illustration at the heart of this painting, which is itself built entirely from curves. Maybe that is the implicit lesson to be drawn from this image. And perhaps this fellow is aware of this: he may be a subtler, more ambiguous teacher than he at first-sight appears. He may even have a sense of humour.
These pictures are part of a loose series I’m calling ‘allegories of painting’. My intention is that the figures in these pictures stand for some aspect of painting itself, an idea of its nature, its power and possibilities. I have to try to live up to this idea, and realize these possibilities in the work itself. As a painter, these pictures are thus both my ‘articles’ and ‘acts’ of faith.
When painting a picture like this I usually place the canvas close to the objects to be depicted, my aim being to transcribe as faithfully as possible the dynamic of light and colour in the original. Although in pursuing this dynamic I am pushed to utilise the entire tonal range from white to black and the entire chromatic range from neutral greys to the most intensely saturated colours, these extremes within the picture remain bound together and controlled by their interrelationships; by the optical coherence of these relationships. The result, while strikingly forceful and vibrant, yet remains naturalistic and harmonious.
Father and daughter exhibition Gingles and Gingles explores themes of darkness, light, memory and place, through images of nature, a dash of childhood whimsy and the use of mixed media. The box sculptures created by Antrim artist Graham Gingles contain symbols of nature and science (above left) housed in multidimensional structures, which hang beside the small drawings by his daughter, Lisa Gingles, which are overlaid onto reclaimed books and manuscripts (above right). Together, the artists' world of eerie fairy tales and ancient folklore, a world where both menacing and benign forces of nature are at play.
Continues until September 29 at the Peppercanister Gallery, 3 Herbert Street, Dublin 2; tel: 01-6611279; website: peppercanister.com
Contemporary art wonder Albert Irvin has a new exhibition, writes Colin Gleadell.
Albert Irvin is one of the wonders of the London contemporary art world, whose new exhibition at Gimpel Fils in Davies Street, beside Claridges, every Olympic visitor should visit. The show celebrates the 90th birthday of a man whom I spotted recently running 50 yards full pelt for a bus – and whose art, not to mention the distinctive colour-coordinated clothes he wears, is as vigorous and youthful as any half his age.
Irvin is, as the curator Paul Moorhouse says in the catalogue, an artist who identifies abstract art with existence.
“For over 50 years, his work has been predicated on the conviction that non-descriptive colours, shapes, brush marks and intimated space can directly express a sense of life in its most essential form.”
Irvin has titled the exhibition Fidelio not just as a reference to his faith in abstraction, but also as a musical evocation, echoing his love for and great knowledge of the classics.
Synthesising the proximity of music to painting, Irvin comments: “Music brought me to the realisation that it was possible to say what it feels like to be a human being without having to paint noses and feet.”
Irvin’s work can be found in museum collections in Britain, Ireland and Australia, as well notable private collections, including that of the artist Damien Hirst. Prices are a snip, from £7,000 to £20,000.
Honorary Life Members
The Royal Dublin Society has a long and prestigious history. Since its foundation in 1731 it has been devoted to its mission of advancing Ireland, both economically and culturally. The good works of the Society were instrumental in the establishment of major national institutions such as the National Museum, the National Library and the National Botanic Gardens.
Society Members, Council, Committees and Staff take particular pride in ensuring the preservation and continuance of the objectives of the original Charter, drawn up in 1750.
In 1981, to mark the 250th Anniversary of its founding, the Society instituted the award of Honorary Life Membership to honour persons of distinction who had made a significant contribution to Ireland, over and above their normal employment, in the areas covered by the Society's Foundation Activities (Agriculture, Arts, Industry and Science).
The award is conferred annually on the Thursday nearest to 25 June, the Society's foundation date.
The 2012 recipients of Honorary Life Membership are Loretta Brennan Glucksman and Patrick J. Murphy. Previous recipients include two Nobel Prize Winners, Professor Ernest Walton and Seamus Heaney; Dr Bernadette Greevy-Tattan; Dr Siobhan McKenna; Molly Keane; Dr Patrick Hillery; Dr Martin McAleese; Dr Jack Kyle; Christina Noble; Iris Kellett; Dr Louis Le Broquy; Anna May McHugh, Dr Martin Naughton, Fr Austin McKeon, John A. Ruddock, Br Kevin Crowley, Professor David McConnell, Richard (Dick) Ahlstrom and John M. Oxx. Mr Patrick J. Murphy
Patrick J. Murphy, has been involved in the Arts in Ireland for over forty years. He has been a member of the Arts Council since 1981 and has also served as its Chairman.
Primary schools, local authority collections, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Trinity College, Dublin, the National Self Portrait Collection and artists in need have all benefited from the generous engagement of Mr Murphy in the cause of Irish visual art.
Since 2000, he has acted as Art Advisor to the President of Ireland and to the Office of Public Works to ensure that the best of contemporary Irish art is displayed in state buildings. He had an active role in the founding and development of ROSC.
In 2011 Patrick helped the RDS celebrate 150 years of the Taylor Art Award by producing one of the finest exhibitions of Irish Art, largely from private collections and rarely seen by the public. He also organised a Lecture Series to accompany the four-week exhibition. This was not his first connection with the Taylor Art Award. He was the RDS-nominated Judge for all of thirteen years from 1988 to 2000.
Patrick has also had a distinguished business career working in banking and brewing.
It is with great sadness that Peppercanister Gallery reports the death of internationally renowned American artist Paul Jenkins. Jenkins whose work is currently on show at the gallery in Dublin, was born in Kansas on 12 July 1923 and passed away aged 88 on 9th June 2012.
Paul Jenkins was born in Kansas City in 1923. Jenkins moved to New York City, and his personal explorations of the metaphysical led him to explore mysticism, which would ultimately become dominant in his work. His paintings can be identified by their flowing paint on canvas. In his early days painting for Jenkins became an intuitive, almost mystical process. He commented, "I paint what God is to me.” In 1953, Jenkins traveled to Paris, where, a year later, he had his first one-man show. Beginning in 1958, Jenkins titled each canvas Phenomena, with additional identifying words. He believed the work to be descriptive of the discovery process inherent in each painting. His work has been exhibited and can be found in the collections of many international galleries including MOMA, the Guggenheim New York, the Whitney Museum New York, Musée du Louvre, and Musée d'Art moderne in Paris.