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Caoineadh/Elegies  - ARTIST’S STATEMENT

To view pictures, click on the following links -

 

The Crumlin Road Gaol,  Belfast in August/September 2009

 

Droichead Arts Centre,  Drogheda in March 2009

 

The Courthouse Arts Centre,  Tinahely in January 2009

 

The South Tipperary Arts Centre,  Clonmel in November 2008

 

The Linenhall Arts Centre,  Castlebar in August 2008

 

 

Review by Aidan Dunne in The Irish Times

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO ARTIST’S STATEMENT:   This body of work has been developing since 2007.  The various solo exhibitions in Belfast, Castlebar, Clonmel,  Drogheda  and  Tinahely are all different versions of the one exhibition.  The theme is the same but there is a considerable amount of new work in each show.  However, some of the work will appear in more than one show.  It has been an interesting challenge to compose a new show for each new space.

 

 

I began work on a series of paintings in response to stories in the media about “Most Wanted” men.  I decided that I would paint 52 Heads because of Donald Rumsfeld’s notorious Deck of Cards, his 52 most wanted men in Iraq. However, what began as an emotional response to the “War on Terror” has developed in various, more subtle directions since then.

 

“Caoineadh” or requiem is a theme I frequently return to in my work and at

first, I thought of the Heads simply as “Elegies” to those who suffered

because of war.  Over time however, other themes have emerged in the work

- ideas relating to the media and spectacle, notions of identity and ‘otherness’ and ideas about seeing (and not seeing) in the contemporary world.

 

I take images from the media as the subjects of my paintings.  We are bombarded with a multiplicity of images and it is easy to become inurred to the personal stories that lie behind each image.  A personal tragedy, like the loss of a loved one for instance, is sensationally ‘splashed’ across the news papers one day and then quickly forgotten when the next story is presented.  Wars and atrocities give way to further wars and atrocities.  The endless supply of stories and images tend to lose their effect…  But by taking an image and using it as the subject of a painting, it emphasises the importance of that image, that personal story.  In a way, it subverts the notion of the “15 minutes of fame”.  The work challenges the viewer to look again, to delve a little deeper and think about the implications behind the image.  However, rather than make finite statements about the work, I prefer to allow the viewer to bring his or her own associations to bear on it.

 

From a formal point of view, I am fascinated by the tension between the

actual task of representation and the formal ‘pleasure’ of mark-making and painting.  I like to create works that, from a distance, appear purely figurative

yet on closer inspection, reveal the true nature of the practice  i.e. that it is

one individual’s ongoing struggle with the materiality of paint and surface.

The work also explores how photography and painting differ and compete as

modes of representation.