Pat Byrne – MFA Graduate, 2015

Pat Byrne, 2015, 'The New Baal Fires', Oil on canvas, 57x40cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, ‘The New Baal Fires’, Oil on canvas, 57x40cm

My practice explores superstitions and folklore. Superstitions have always held a core place in Irish culture but as time progresses the mischievous and malevolent spirits that once occupied the spoken word and imagination are being forgotten only to be seen as figures of parody.

Pat Byrne, 2015 'Industrious', Oil on Canvas, 41x31cm

Pat Byrne, 2015 ‘Industrious’, Oil on Canvas, 41x31cm

I take mythological humanoids and fairies and attempt to portray them in a more realistic and contemporary fashion, wanting to render them as somebody who could possibly pass us by on the street giving them invisibility through their normality. This is achieved by depicting them in everyday, casual attire such as hoodies and tracksuits, clothes surrounded with misperceptions of shady character that serve to amplify their reputations as tricksters. I work very figuratively because it creates an interesting contradiction to the make believe subject matter of the paintings.

Pat Byrne, 2014, 'Now, Look Around', Oil on Canvas, 21x17cm

Pat Byrne, 2014, ‘Now, Look Around’, Oil on Canvas, 21x17cm

I’m interested in how we rationalise events that could be the results of otherworldly actions with an explanation due to a lack of belief, a refusal to believe or possibly to keep this supernatural spectrum secret. Using this lack of fear towards fairy folk combined with the clothing is something that I use to reflect the contemporary human condition. Leprechauns are no longer needed to mend shoes and nor are banshees an omen of death, these characters of superstition are effectively unemployed.

Pat Byrne, 2015, 'One Who Holds November Sacred', Oil on Canvas, 38x28cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, ‘One Who Holds November Sacred’, Oil on Canvas, 38x28cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, 'Masquerading', Oil on Canvas, 25cm x 18cm,

Pat Byrne, 2015, ‘Masquerading’, Oil on Canvas, 25cm x 18cm,

In order for the light and shadows to fall as accurately as possible and heighten the level of realism I build props that are added as prosthetics such as an oversized clover for the leprechaun or horns for the pooka. All of this has inadvertently given the early stages of each painting an element of theatricality.

Pat Byrne, 2015 'Leaves', Oil on Canvas, 55x35cm

Pat Byrne, 2015 ‘Leaves’, Oil on Canvas, 55x35cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, 'Half in the World of Form', Oil on Canvas, 55x35cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, ‘Half in the World of Form’, Oil on Canvas, 55x35cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, 'The Result of Solitude', Oil on Canvas, 36x25cm

Pat Byrne, 2015, ‘The Result of Solitude’, Oil on Canvas, 36x25cm

Stranger Shores

Article by Michael Hill:

Stranger Shores is an exhibition taking place at the Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast, from May 21 to June 26, 2015. Curated by Peter Burns, it includes a total of thirty-nine paintings by John Albert Duigenan, Aileen Murphy, Sheila Rennick, and Burns himself. The many paintings, in a range of sizes and variety of media, depict myriad peculiar people, plants, visions, and environments in an extraordinary and vivid manner. Even the more commonplace characters seem to find themselves in compromising or stimulating scenarios. Despite the encyclopaedic diversity of the works in this exhibition, the four artists share a great sensitivity towards their subject matter and a most direct approach to confronting it. Some further observations are offered below:

Ancient Times, Oil on Canvas, Peter Burns

Ancient Times, Oil on Canvas, Peter Burns

“The colossal eye of a prehistoric lizard takes in a barren volcanic landscape during Ancient Times. His tongue flicks through the sulfuric air to the edge of the canvas. A tiny and unlikely hero reaches to pierce the beast’s throat with his lance – or perhaps it is a reluctant painter reaching with a giant brush to complete his menacing creation. In the background of the scene, lava and semen erupt violently towards a suspended vulva in an urgent race to propagate life in this primordial dawn.

Flower, Acrylic on Canvas, John Albert Duigenan

Flower, Acrylic on Canvas, John Albert Duigenan

A curtain of canvas is drawn back and hooked over the top of the stretcher, revealing a tottering monstrosity lurching forth from a cloud of talcum powder like Joseph Merrick uncovered to the world at a penny gaff show on the Whitechapel Road. Paint dribbles towards the base of the picture like sticky boiled sweets spat out by the Toddler.

Rose, oil on board, Aileen Murphy

Rose, oil on board, Aileen Murphy

A series of pensive felines peer across the gallery; their ears pricked forward inquisitivly at their chaotic neighbours. Shhhhhhhh. Their tightly curled bodies are wound up and ready to pounce or scram in an instant. The cats’ senses are attuned to the chemical substances permeating the air; pheromones surrounding them and painted in electric colours. Their hackles rise as they become acutely aware of every change in scent, heat or movement.

Rose and Mary’s Cat will remain perturbed by the sex and surrealism around them but tricolor Tom Cat reclines, head and tail out of the frame, as his pink penis protrudes from his body. Have you heard the way the cats yowl at night in the car park across the road from the gallery?

Some fruits and flowers also have barbed tips and prickly skin to ward away prying hands and insects but others welcome curious fingers and proboscises.

Megabats are frugivorous and nectarivorous. They either have sharp teeth to pierce hard fruit skins or long tongues that are inserted deep into a flower, collecting pollen on the way, which is then transferred to the next blossom. Cross-pollination allows the flora to reproduce, and hybrid strains of a species to emerge.

Some plants expel toxic fumes into the air or sweet perfumed flurries; others purify their atmosphere. The NASA Clean Air Study demonstrates that certain common household plants naturally remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air helping to counteract the effects of sick building syndrome.

A Teacher checks his txts before class starts. New Message. 3Message. To restore 3 data services, please access your device settings. <Messages. Edit. Delete. He glances up and catches his own gaze in the staffroom mirror. Camera. Click. He stares blankly at his own self-portrait on the tiny greasy screen. He doesn’t notice the jizzing cocks and bulbous tits graffitied on the wall behind him. The biology students have done their homework.

Schoolboys in Wolves Clothes, Oil on Canvas, Sheila Rennick

Schoolboys in Wolves Clothes, Oil on Canvas, Sheila Rennick

In the classroom a protractor spins across one of the desks as a boy lurches back in his seat. Some of his fellow classmates look on or away in dismay. A pack of lads with wolf carcasses draped over their heads point their fingers at the startled teen. His face has morphed into that of a soured Guanajuato mummy. They pull their triggers. A simple sketch of a sunrise or utopian domed sanctuary drifts to the floor.

At the top of a candy-coloured precipice, a lone figure surveys a barren but beautiful landscape. Reminiscent of the Huangshan UNESCO World Heritage Site following a cataclysmic disaster, the nuclear scorched peaks with sparse unnatural foliage reach to the heavens. The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is revealed to be American television and social media personality, Kim Kardashian. She clutches the shrunken head of her husband, rapper and entrepreneur, Kanye West. It is hard to imagine why she has undertaken this perilous journey and how she will survive in this newly emerging world.

Yesterday’s seductress Salome sits above her table like a disinterested Sheela na gig. A silver platter rests before her but rather than the head of a decapitated prophet, the small kitten on the scarlet table cloth next to her sniffs a rock-pool of baptised shellfish.

A fried egg plummets through the blackness of space towards a copulating couple within the screen of a tiny television. The aerial is tuned to the correct frequency and it takes a second to realise that it is the bed shuddering and not the transmitted image. But it’s not going to happen tonight. An egg needs to be fertilised and incubated before a world can be created, before life can emerge, before an eye can open.”

Michael Hill, June 2015

Posted by Kristina Huxley

Anne Marie Webb

Anne Marie Webb

Anne Marie Webb

Ann Marie Webb graduated in 2014 from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin with an MFA in Painting. She draws inspiration from Baroque theatre and explores identity by obscuring the human figure in a web of abstracted, gestural strokes. Ann Marie received the Peter O’Kane award from the Royal Dublin Society and was shortlisted for the Most Promising Graduate award at the Talbot Gallery, Dublin. She has participated in several group and solo shows across Ireland, including RHA Dublin and RDS Student Awards, and her work is held in private collections in the UK and Europe. 

Anne Marie Webb, Drummer, oil on canvas

Anne Marie Webb, Drummer, oil on canvas

Posted by Robert Armstrong

Brian Maguire: High Wire Act

Brian Maguire, installation Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, NY

Brian Maguire, installation Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, NY

Despite the horrific depictions of body parts, severed heads, statues and perhaps most creepy of all a huge cache of dollar bills, the monumental new paintings in The absence of justice demands this act at the new Fergus McCaffrey Gallery in Chelsea, NY have a strange compelling beauty.

Comparable in scale to Goya’s The Second Of May (1808), Brian Maguire’s paintings tell the story of the contemporary Mexican drug wars around the city of Juárez – the murder capital of the world – where more than 5,000 people have been butchered by drug cartels over the past six years. Maguire has worked regularly in the area painting portraits of victims and trying to find humanity in the wake of continuous tragedy. His documentary film Blood Rising, co-produced by Mark McLoughlin and Brian Maguire, which details the murder of 1400 young women in Juárez and Maguire’s engagement with that situation, is included in the exhibition.

Brian Maguire, Nature Morte (4), 2014

Brian Maguire, Nature Morte (4), 2014

Writing about the film, Ed Vulliamy of The Guardian of London has observed, “Narrators of stories of this kind, if they care, have a fear of exploiting grief as they walk the high wire between narrative and voyeurism.” While the paintings deal directly with images of horror, the effect is not sensational or overtly shocking. Stylistically Maguire is of a generation sympathetic to expressionist gestures, but this work takes its time and disarms with an almost lyrical approach. It uses paint’s ability to render humanity via flesh tones, and in a simple depiction of blue jeans, invites the viewer to connect with the headless victim. In another painting of mangled bodies bathed in a yellow light, the composition suggests an altarpiece, but where the religious icon might be expected, we find instead a container for formaldyhide. The paintings are operating on a high wire, not only as depictions of extraordinary content, but also in the inherent appeal of painting itself, as it operates in Maguire’s work in the realm between the ugly and the beautiful.

Brian Maguire – Police Graduation (Juarez), 2014

Brian Maguire – Police Graduation (Juarez), 2014

Brian Maguire, installation Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, NY

Brian Maguire, installation Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, NY

Brian Maguire, installation Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, NY

Brian Maguire, installation Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, NY

Posted by Robert Armstrong

Aisling Ní Chlaonadh | John Busher – Transferrals


Aisling Ní Chlaonadh

Aisling Ní Chlaonadh, ‘Bubbleswatch 2’, acrylic on board, 2014.

aisling transferrals4 (2)

John Busher, 'Sunburn , (9pm), oil on canvas, 2014

John Busher, ‘Sunburn (9pm)’, oil on canvas, 2014

john busher install


Aisling Ní Chlaonadh and John Busher, two Art in the Contemporary World students at NCAD recently showed their work in the Project Space at Pallas Projects/Studios. The accompanying text describes: ‘Transferrals is a reference to the unknown, how this is marked with both uneasiness and hesitation. Both practices of John and Aisling share a mutual concern in relation to painting within a contemporary context. This ranges from preoccupations that question the role of photography within contemporary painting discourse, to the exploration of phenomenological interests that inform their practice.’

Aisling Ní Chlaonadh’s website can be found here.

John Busher’s website can be found here.

Posted by Kristina Huxley

Diana Copperwhite – Shadowlands

Diana Copperwhite, Green Portrait, 2014, oil on canvas. 30x25 cms

Diana Copperwhite, Green Portrait, 2014, oil on canvas. 30×25 cms

Shadowland is the title of the exhibition by Diana Copperwhite currently on show at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel in New York.

Writing about her work Colm Toibin says:

Her work is about painting first and foremost; [these] references merely serve a purpose.  Thus digital images, which freeze and fragment an original image fascinate her, but such images in themselves are not enough, they provide a way into the painting.  It is their visuality, which inspires rather than any precise sense of a blurred or fragmented reality.  Because she physically likes making paintings, everything is subservient to what paint will achieve.”

Diana Copperwhite, Atomic, 2014, oil on canvas. 180x175 cms

Diana Copperwhite, Atomic, 2014, oil on canvas. 180×175 cms

Copperwhite makes paintings that move fluidly between representation and abstraction. Photographs, montage and assemblage all aid the process and become ancillary works that pin down fleeting thoughts, glimpses and reactions to a media saturated age.  Her interests and sources are eclectic and wide ranging, from social media to philosophical debate to art historical references.  Yet, as Toibin points out, her paintings are no more about the image than they are about the process of painting itself.  Her work is phenomenological in that momentarily emotional responses override the need to capture reality.  Something has piqued her interest and from that initial interest she thinks in colour, in tone, and texture, in setting herself a visual problem to which there is no single definitive solution.  Her palette is composed of murky undertones punctuated by bright neon rifts. The fluidity and expressiveness of the painting gives little hint of the rigorous and formal abstract principles applied to the making.

Diana Copperwhite, 3  paintings at 352 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel

Diana Copperwhite, 3 paintings at 352 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel

Amelia Stein and Mick O'Dea at the exhibition

Amelia Stein and Mick O’Dea at the exhibition

Diana Copperwhite, Sideways, 2014, oil on canvas, 44x44 cms

Diana Copperwhite, Sideways, 2014, oil on canvas, 44×44 cms

Posted by Robert Armstrong

Darina Meagher – MFA Graduate, 2014

studio 2

Darina Meagher, Hotel Rooms, all Oil on Board, 55cm x 40cm

Darina Meagher, Hotel Rooms, all Oil on Board, 55cm x 40cm

With a practice situated firmly in the realm of realism, I am drawn to the interior space, these receptacles of our inner lives, spaces we occupy both publicly and privately. I have been developing formulae as a way of creating work, each painting is a new space or dimension – somehow the actuality of paint creates an environment which allows something new or unforeseen to come about. The studio becomes a laboratory where the experiments are made in mark and colour; the painted illusion allows an incomplete glimpse of another world, suspended, creating a forum somewhere between the screen and the picture frame.

Searching the internet for: the top ten cities in the world + the top ten hotel rooms in the world I painted the first image that I found. Each room is a repository, which contains us for a moment in time. The rooms themselves contained through paint. Although located all over the world each room looks almost the same, homogenised.

Darina Meagher, Emotion + Place, all Oil on Board, 120cm x 90cm

Darina Meagher, Emotion + Place, all Oil on Board, 120cm x 90cm

Following on, I searched: the top emotions in the world + the top city in the world. Using details of these found images, I explore emotion and place through paint. Challenging myself with every brushstroke and mark, the resulting vigor comes from this engagement both with the medium and the media. Although not fully resolved these works are at the cusp of almost there and mark a shift in my practice.

I am currently based in a studio at the RHA Gallery, Dublin.

studio 1

Posted by Darina Meagher