BLEEDERS.

B R O W NR E V I E W (2018)

*As of January 2019 Brown Review will only exist in print, disseminated by POST and word of mouth as part of Arrangements project which will launch at pallas projects dublin, November 2019.


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BASSAM AL-SABAH.

RHA GALLERY DUBLIN.

21.11.2018.

12.21PM.

Raining.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO PJ HARVEY’S RID OF ME🎧


BLEEDERS.

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, Bassam Al-Sabah’s art bleeds best among five other bleeders at the RHA Gallery. Not the red stuff that pulses through our veins, but the other abstract stuff, made of feelings and tears but lacking a coagulant to stopper the outpouring. The past—that thing that clings for dear life in anticipation of being forgotten—bubbles under the sincere synth, here and now. We are our memories someone said. Dream, memory, mirage, a dawdling camera tracks through a digital landscape-segue-architecture that's neither homely nor stained by life, experience, irony or joy. It's an oxymoronic fake home, filled with absence and longing. It appears on the horizon as quick as it folds away 12-minutes later, like that suitcase that sat big and sad at the front door before they left. With the prefab thickness of a house of cards we are carried like a child through this anorexic architecture that, outside, has no companion or landmark to orientate or objectify it in this fake world. Weightless….. we are lost, or at a loss, to locate this place, this dream, this desire, traveling alongside our own world in some liquid parallel reality, just out of reach and touch, but palpably close, the way family still feels close thousands of miles away as memory embeds in identity embeds in injury embeds in “eachudder” as my five-year-old son says. This is a home eternally lost and found. Loopy. All sun and shimmer and angles, this fake architecture of appliances that cry abject forms, pour angles, wriggle curves and spout clotted nightmares is being flattened by the language of sadness, sadness over lost objects, flesh and not flesh, as a pyre of photographs burn so as not to bear the memory, the loss, the stillness of witnessing. Silly simulacrums can make you cry. We cannot like this home, locate this home, impress our selves upon this home. “Home”, that repetitive receptacle, empty and hollow, but laying in waiting to marry our dreams and desires across the threshold, bears witness to the eulogy of memory and time, where and when representation never lives up to life, but elongates the disparity between life and representation, a vast inequality. This is a digital carcass “Dear Bassam” has spent time fabricating from the whorls of his fingertips, click, click, click. It is neither our home nor his home, no matter how many times he clicks “Home”  “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home” “Home”

 

Through 19 December.


so far…

Mehitabel.


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Mark Swords.

KK Dublin.

7.11.2018.

12.31PM.

Threatening rain.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO TO THE RAIN🎧


Mehitabel.

Gallery. Mark Swords. Five paintings. Colourful. Tatty. Big. Square. But that's where the easy descriptions end. First: their squareness? Somehow Mark Swords’ new paintings present as square at KK Gallery, although they do not measure square. Their size and form, headless and amputated like a Greek statue gone through the Time mill, intimates this perceived squareness—facing the midsection of you and me, shoulder to groin. They are paintings that face you when you make personal space, between you and them, a minimum. Up close we get snatches of raggedy cloth, uncanny buttons, failed tabula rasa, and squeezed-straight-from-the-tube paint…..waiting to be baked the rest of the way. Joyful abjection is being exchanged, up close. Across the empty gallery divide other visitors (students, I think) also butt shoulders and groins with them, spitting rainbows in the noon light as they awkwardly discuss their pros and cons. Mark Swords has always created formal arguments on the canvas by adding more stuff to his already screaming tablecloth. Nothing new there. And like before the cutlery and spilt-over world is still all over the place. Slovenly—a word I have come to depend on recently in terms of writing on painting, what one online dictionary defines anecdotally as “what your great unt Mehitabel might call you if you came to high tea without a necktie”—defines these well. In its stated messiness and civility, slovenly speculates on an originary tidiness, as if we all arrived clothed and clean at birth, not naked and decorated in blood and guts and shit. But I think we can do a lot better than Aunt Mehitabel in terms of painting. Slovenly onomatopoeically describes painting, like lips trying to mouth “Love” while kissing. Slovenly is the act of being physically close, too close, so close that words become physically entangled with the object. Lyrics become moans. Slovenly is being caught in the act, or trying to intellectualise a physical act that intellectually stutters, slobbers, spits rainbows: painting. Slovenly and smothering (words that carry words) navigate distance to achieve trust. Mark Swords’ paintings are best up close, in person, in the flesh. They lie from afar. They look dumb on your phone, a device that makes you manage art better but see and experience art less. Like the pregnant sisters  S((love))nly and S((mother))ing, these new paintings carry sources and references mummified by the making and doing of painting. They’re crafty. Mark Swords cannot “unlearn” himself (he confesses in print here) but maybe he can unlearn materiality (if you think art making and artist are mutually exclusive…). The exclusive feminine metaphor ((pregnant)) is not lost on Mark Swords’ work as a whole (sewing and fatherhood). The artist has always worked outside the painted stretcher to transcend edge or border or thing or gender. Things hang and drape with their loose threads and associations releasing us from any sense of objectification (even with the red dots telling us different). Last year at TBG+S Mark Swords’ work exploded outward to range across the gallery, citrus and flat. We were confronted with excess, floor to ceiling, made by a rabid child, a rabid father. Here, these five compress that theatre and force a more intimate contact. Carnival chevrons come veiled in fudgie neutrals leaving traces of the clown and streamers from the kids’ party at TBG+S, like rainbows that signal the waltz of light and rain. Bonnard’s breakfast table, civilised and bespectacled. Mark Swords gives a transcendental flatness to the objects he makes, as if an object fully inclosed by an edge or a border or opacity would push the observer away to view from a far. These are up-close paintings, get-lost paintings. One painting here has a zip of stitching scaling the West edge, but nothing NE_S. These absences and resulting asymmetry gives the feeling of paintings being slung over stretchers or tables or whatever gives them their loose structural integrity. Mark Swords, an artist of many things, a collage artists, allows materials to collapse in on themselves through a social push and pull to relate everything to everything. What you get in his democracy is a density towards the centre, anchored by hat, pyramid, plant and so on. However the centre is under fire from the elements that helicopter on the skirted outskirts. This is where his paintings retain the vitality and integrity of the studio. Here, on the outskirts, things get jumbled and debris is allowed to form arabesques that are maze-like and pretty and open, as if a more austere and angular world once existed and now, after its ruination, collapse, flattening, razing, a new blossoming springs forth that is shadowless and endless under a pulsing sun. Pause. Pause. Pause. In the very confessional text that accompanies the exhibition Mark Swords admits (to himself) that he has got older. He has ((born))e a “son”. He is indeed himself “still” a son. He is not too old, he is not too young, he is in-between, in a space that doesn’t look forwards or backwards—the polarities of the age of man—but wanders and wallows at a centre of being, reflection and prophecy, somewhere on the highway towards the lost and found depot—The Lost Highway Guy. (…..horizonless-dark I hear the warble of music from the spaghetti-junction wilderness…..)

 

Through 24 November.


so far…

yadnusmonday.


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BRUCE NAUMAN.

MoMA/ MoMA PS1 NEW YORK.

29.10.2018.

10.30AM.

REAL SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO TIMES SQUARE IN THE AM🎧


yadnusmonday

I want to relive this like a trauma. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Reading Peter Schjeldahl’s New Yorker review of the Bruce Nauman MoMA retrospective while Halloween screams for attention amid the sleepless tinsel and jingle of a New York A.M. The thought of being a habitual hack rides passenger (what cowboy Bruce might call “rides shotgun”) to my reading. Habit is always eminent; for artists, for all. The thought is for Schjeldahl though, not Nauman. Not Nauman. Never Nauman. nNNNNNOOOO! [MONDAY, MoMA]: ill-conceived baby-mobile contraption rotates iller animal casts in illest palette leaving black skid marks on MoMA floor. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Schjeldahl confesses he has grown to “like” not “dislike” Bruce Nauman’s art, intimating the latter the more apt register; that “liking” it just aestheticises it, commodifies it, not ‘commodes’ it. Don’t write then, Please!: art criticism doesn't have to be an obligation. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Wearing white T-shirt, hipster beard and fuzzy black and white analogue video fuzz, an angular and magnetic Bruce Nauman manipulates T-bar with short movements that rise and fall like a curved line rising and falling on a graph. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Schjeldahl is definitely not the writer he once was at the short-lived Seven Days Art Columns and recently deceased Village Voice when urgency and energy trumped self-conscious grammar. Reading Schjeldahl then made me want to write inside fear and outside habit, outside myself—what Bruce Nauman the narcissist (the detached alliteration just perfect for the occasion) has managed to achieve for 50 years. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Crusty wax cast masks smooch MoMA wall as water pisses backwards out through spooky cavities into twin sinks and plastic 5-gallon plastic buckets making sounds that accompany long hot summers. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Bleary-eyed and vengeful, hoping against hope that Schjeldahl’s prosaic affirmations is the language of a hack who has become jaded due to habit over fear (No offence but I traveled one eight of the globe to experience Bruce Nauman at MoMA!) Anyway: Why write if Bruce Nauman (or any artist) has become a habit over fear, broken-in tame instead of rearing wild? I've waded through the cream of Schjeldahl’s prose, sticky page after sticky page, where lesser artists edge an orgasm, literary speaking. Nauman naught. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Teenager sprays drum kit with flurry of beats as furtive surveillance ferrets out furry rat nuzzling Skinnerian box. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Schjeldahl ought to take a page from his lucid observations on Bruce Nauman's “legendary artist block” or the artist's craft for “[finishing] only just enough to embody their ideas”. I think of Schjeldahl reborn after losing his New Yorker job, cutting loose from the institution’s and reader's expectations of him to be Schjeldahl. I would love that, fear that, want that. What a blunt sword habit forges. There's no fear in Bruce Nauman’s art because he does what all people tend to do with fear by projecting it onto family, friend, therapist, dog or OCD. But Bruce is not your brother, sister, dad, mam, friend, therapist, dog, or your OCD. He’s an artist who illuminates instead of sublimates. And like all the best artists, art is his charm, his talisman, his fetish, depending on the wax and wane of the moon. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Blue cursive neon spells out bbbbbrrrrrrrrruuuuuuucccccceeee AS THOUGH IT WERE WRITTEN ON THE SURFACE OF THE MOON (1968). [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Artists keep stuff to themselves in order to overshare in their work in albeit covert and perverse ways. The best artists do anyway. Bruce Nauman is an artist who’s never failed to take risks with himself for his art so we, as observers, feel unsafe and unsteady year after decade after half a century of Bruce Nauman eating his own words in an effort to embody language at its pre-verbal centre. gaga, googoo. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Nauman skilfully rides saddle in magenta twilight. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: (Other artists are vampire pale in comparison—Bruce has sucked them dry.) It's as if Schjeldahl touched upon something dark in Bruce Nauman's neon orgies and tortured clowns and verbally retreated before articulating something darker in himself. Words are dangerous. If Bruce Nauman is a narcissist—as Schjeldahl freely admits—then he makes narcissists of us too if we are willing to look in the dark, dark mirror that the artist upturns as unadulterated sediments and fragments of self. Us. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Four Naumans—double the narcissism—apply dirty makeup against a golden urine light. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: As fictional father describes fictional daughter in Don DeLillo's Point Omega as hearing “words from inside them”, Bruce Nauman too lives and listens inside language. His words wear ears; the otic feelers go deep. Folding himself and language in on themselves through ever so simple performative procedures and verbal gestures to enter the navel of a dream lit with a neon beat and shadowed by the artist's once quarterback-square angles to now drooping clown body-double, this is the meeting place of brain and body, a gibberish gestalt that fucks and sucks. [MONDAY, MoMA]: Pete and Repeat were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left? Repeat. Pete and Repeat were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left? Repeat.Pete and Repeat were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left? Repeat. [SUNDAY, HOTEL]: Schjeldahl’s reviews of recent years don't delight in the present moment. The Schjeldahl of the present is indebted to the past, where memory subjugates energy, where feet are grounded, not slipping and sliding upon the sweaty anxieties and fantasies of the treadmill present. My wife said it better than Schjeldahl and I have in over 2000 words when we sat in a diner two minutes from MoMA PS1 as she pointed out how many rapist vans were lurking around Queens—no doubt a physical and mental association to the Nauman experience: “I need to wash my brain.” I want to relive this like a trauma. Repeat.

 

Bruce Nauman at MoMA/PS1 N.Y. Through February 2019.


so far…

BLOT.


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JOY GERRARD.

WEXFORD ARTS CENTRE.

20.10.2018.

3.PM.

REAL SUNNY.


BLOT.

[Speech delivered at Wexford Arts Centre at 3:15PM, 20.10.2018]

 

NOT to put words in your mouths (or perhaps exactly doing that), when YOU and I leave here today and wander back out into the real world to be asked by friend or family to describe Joy Gerrard's work, YOU or I will probably say something like, “They are black and white paintings and drawings of protest crowds.” YOU or I might add, “Some are small, others are large... and others are cut and pinned directly onto the gallery wall.” These simple but justified descriptions manage to do a good job of representing Joy Gerrard’s work in its absence. YOU or I will also be asked, without doubt, whether we liked Joy Gerrard's work or not, and our answers, positive or negative (black or white) will either tempt or deter friend or family coming to judge for themselves. Words are powerful when it comes to mediating and sharing our experiences of contemporary art. In our very descriptions we can unpack whether an artwork works or doesn't work for us. Our relationship with art, to art, is always mediated through words; words are a way to bridge the gap between the viewer and the artwork, and the world in which the artist is reflecting upon in its various disguises. There is a vast distance to overcome between the viewer and the artwork; YOU and I can only get so close with descriptors like “black and white”, “small and large”, and for that matter, “protest crowds”. I realised only this week, with the help of writer César Aira’s newly translated essay ‘On Contemporary Art’, that the distance between viewer and artwork, a distance César celebrates, is a distance that I have always unknowingly embraced, even exaggerated through my words. It is this distance, this gap, between viewer and artwork, us and it, that has allowed me as a writer on contemporary art, to fill with my words, imagination and speculations: contemporary art is never just black and white, even though it elicits black and white opinion! The “black and white” through which Joy Gerrard organises her crowds and crowds organise themselves on the ground, could also refer to the black and white of opinion and the reactionary culture we cultivate and participate in online. If YOU and I move a little closer to Joy Gerrard's crowds we might imagine the black and white of “FOR” and “AGAINST” on protest placards sometimes scrawled with irony, jest and emotion. If we pull away from the black and white of Joy Gerrard’s work, not just to the farthest wall in the gallery, but to skies above, beyond the news-media helicopters and satellites, from this god-like perch and perspective we might imagine black blots on the landscape—social, political, aesthetic, psychological blots that wriggle and evolve across our cities, temporary stains to be replaced with yet another blot at the turning circle of our cul-de-sac democracy. Black and white, night and day, dark and light, positive and negative, Joy Gerrard’s work, from my limited and singular perspective, presents the grey territory of seeing and choosing. If we picture the news-media versions of these, Joy Gerrard’s look nothing like the black and white opinion of sweaty news journalism that polarises rather than gives perspective on our social and political world. Joy Gerrard's blots dissolve the dumb syntax and spectacle of a news headline, to give YOU and me a poetic and colourful perspective of a world that has become so fully immersed and embroiled with the virtual world that it can only see black and white, among the crowd.

 

Through 24 November at Wexford Arts Centre.


so far…

8IGHT.


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FORREST BESS; AMANDA DORAN.

MODERN ART LONDON; GOREY MAIN STREET WEXFORD.

23/24.10.2018.

11.30/2.45PM.

REAL SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO JAGGED LITTLE PILL🎧


8IGHT.

GRAVITY prevents us from ever touching each other, skin-to-skin. What we feel in those intimate moments is a gravitational gap contouring the goose pimples and razor-shy downy of our bodies and egos. We are never really touching. Ever. Without gravity we would absorb each other; swallow each other whole. We are truly alone. I-s-o-l-a-t-e-d. 69 will never become 8—perhaps. The unmediated experience of art is what I am hoping to point towards if fail to touch upon here. No gravity, no context, no press release, no history; or history and reference missed or forgotten in the experience of art as experience. Two days, two artists, a day and world apart: Forrest Bess and Amanda Doran presented paintings that posited the possibility of an unmediated art experience. On leaving Forrest Bess at Modern Art London the “Tun” in The Hat and Tun, the pursed diamond in The Indian Wrap Co., the jazzy star in Pret a Manger, the white hallelujah hands on the numberless tower clock, the wisp and wash of chimney smoke and jet streams against a blue day, all this foregrounded my consciousness, signifying words had failed me in the gallery. And that failure had followed me outside among the nameless and numberless. Next day I projected images of the Bess exhibition onto a 4K cinema screen for students. Forget Instagram, this screen, this state-of-the-art technology, had no hope of transmitting the weight and attitude of Bess’ touch, resting in peace and pieces on primed shores where pencil marks still sign the sand 50 years on. Or the weathering: cracks and splits and no doubt forced restoration efforts giving Bess’ painting a complexity that it never had, or killing its directness year upon year upon year as old paint imitates old skin. Day before Bess, words failed me again in an artist's studio—Amanda Doran’s. Outside, jettisoned bags litter the hallway; inside students bump into the gravities of each other while avoiding bumping into the gravities of Amanda’s paintings. Feeling swallowed by the mouths, the vaginas and the gouged eyes of her paintings, as if the slovenly oil paint, so heavy and round, was creating its own orbit, we became furniture, Amanda’s paintings the pulse. New paintings, or new paintings 6-years-in-the-making (2012 being the last time I was last swallowed by Amanda's paintings in her exceptional Degree show at NCAD), Amanda has, what Frances Bacon liked to call, “emptied out”. Today in this studio, tomorrow beneath the nameless and numberless, gravity's cushion slipped from the bed, leaving me face-planted against painting’s promise to be itself, nothing else. This is the opposite of science.

 

I have written extensively on Forrest Bess: in relation to Manhood and biography here; and in reference to Daniel Rios Rodriguez here.

 

Forrest Bess through 1 December 2018; Amanda Doran opens at RHA Gallery January 2019.


so far…

WORTHY.


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COLIN CROTTY.

OONAGH YOUNG DUBLIN.

17.10.2018.

12.15PM.

REAL SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO THE DOORS(1967)🎧


WORTHY.

EMERGING from a wispy twilight a colonnade of people and trees and statues brushed with approaching cobalts and retreating cadmiums obediently stay in line and in episodic anticipation towards some out-of-reach and out-of-sight event in the woods beyond the hedgerow and red bricks. GOOD Grammar. Four years ago Colin Crotty’s painting burst onto my path like a stream of consciousness caught by the tail. I remember thinking curators will lap this up. They did. I did. At that time it seemed to make sense for one lone painter to paint groups of figures seeking or experiencing something that paint and canvas could not contain but could represent through social groups desiring together (and each other) in the absence of that big desire, that big Other. It was the cold distance between Crotty’s representations of time through social and relational bodies that let you imagine beyond the limitations of the internalised medium of painting. Crotty’s painting was reaching out, rubbing shoulders with the body, the social, desire, sex, even though the paint had dried and the process was still going on in the bedroom. Crotty’s paintings, then and now, divvy up painting between sex and love—“Don't get them mixed up!” s/he said. The minute you start marrying sex to love you are knee deep in language. No matter how many song lyrics romantically profess words are not enough in the expression of love, words are enough. We as viewers are trying to imagine sex in the gallery. But what’s being presented in the gallery is an offering to language. It’s ritual. We can of course verbally profess our love for painting as it dries on the gallery wall, like professing love as sex dries on the sheets, but painting-in-translation, like sex-in-translation, is not sweaty or sticky. Love is the Word. Sex ends with a word, usually “Love.” Like love and sex ‘painting’ is both noun and verb. In the studio painting is a verb; in the gallery, a noun. “Don't get them mixed up!” s/he said. Love and painting are filled with absence and desperation. It’s not the painter's or lover’s fault, it’s the game not the player. Thing is, painters aren’t wordy, their paintings are. But painters want love, and love and painting is misunderstood and argued through words. For instance, when you describe a painting as a “one-liner” to a painter you are asking for trouble. (Perhaps my opening procession of words as substitute for Crotty's painting is trying to do two things at once, a ‘worthy’ one-liner). Maybe a one-liner is too clever too fast too premature for the painter—–-uh.uh.uh.aaaaah.oh….. Good painting leaves gaps for words            ...lots of words, too many words. Painting wants the lexicon, painters the legacy. In other words, maybe if there were less words—more one-liners—painting would be better off: “I'm not going to write any more boring catalogue essays!” s/he said. Right now some writer is injecting words into the paper veins of an ecstatic painter with head arched back, Spidy wrists, and irisless white globes pulsing under scrunched genitalia eyelids. Considering the gaps in detail performed in his new paintings at Oonagh Young, Crotty is definitely looking for love. He’s got it. On my watch Crotty has never before blocked-in details of figures the way he does in these. Where once detail deflected our words, our desires, our imagination, these new paintings present comic chasms in detail. The gaps in contemporary art is where art resides. Like we always have, before words, the gap is where we, the world, get to crayon in details with words. At Oonagh Young we are presented with a verbal breeding ground of profiles, of silhouettes, of paint-bandaged eyes. Crotty’s gaps compose tableaux vivants that mischievously play with the body languages of representation, of history, of storytelling, of self and other. Black boy with yellow socks sits jockey-back upon presence as greyed absence; three bathers fully-dressed in detail loiter half-dressed in a pop-up pretext for landscape. We still get the full picture here, but the picture is not activated just by detail as it was before, it is activated by the absence of details. Crotty’s tumbledown stage sets and coloured shards of light act out representation rather than deliver it, wholesale. Heaven. The artist’s shapes perform while his troupe of actors try to find their footing and themselves without script or composition. Crotty turns the tables on his cast, a cast that has participated in the relational aesthetics of the artist’s youth, nostalgia, and allusions to the tradition of painting. However, the cobalts and cadmiums still intimate it is all a dream, an ideal, an elevated past: Poussin was the receptacle for too many words.

 

Through 16 November 2019.


so far…

DISCO.


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NIAMH MCCANN.

HUGH LANE DUBLIN.

10.10.2018.

12.15PM.

REAL SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO MILES DAVIS’ IN A SILENT WAY🎧


DISCO.

...[Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start♪]... From doorway to doorway, entrance to exit of an upstairs suite of rooms bathed in deep museum-blue, Niamh McCann’s ‘Furtive Tears’ revolves internally in its postmodern distillation of modernist taste, design, architecture, music, history, and consistent nods and winks to its setting, Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery. That’s a bit of a mouthful. But the scrap heap of history is big enough to make you gag. See. Twentieth-century Modernism could never last. Humans have evolved or regressed to the point that they like a bit of this mixed with a bit of that. According to the philosophical pomp parade of postmodernity, and anything goes reflected in the post–Lyotard disco ball every rainy Saturday night in the 1980s, we are eclectic, if nothing else. Artists are eclectic too, like Vampires are. And when you invite them into your house they are going to bite the furniture. In one sense, or every sense, the Hugh Lane is more house than gallery, with its fireplaces and chandeliers twinkling in the cornices of our eyes. McCann doesn't compete with the house, the home or the history of the Hugh Lane, she embraces them, all: table, chairs, delph, cutlery, flowers—the ‘place setting’ of history braced between the artist's forefinger and thumb waiting to be jerked forward into the present with a Smash! and a Splash! McCann is our speechless narrator, too. As narrator you’d think there’d be a hovering distance between McCann and her subject. And although the afterimages of her weird juxtapositions haunt, McCann’s narration is close, cuddly-close, from the zoomed-in bronze casting of a big honker belonging to the gargantuan bust of Michael Collins downstairs, to the Bauhausing of Rodin's Age of Bronze. There’s gestures being made here also, not just political gestures, but salutes to time, places and personalities, like McCann’s restoration of Sir Hugh Lane's instruction to have fresh flowers adorn the galleries daily. Thus: ‘Furtive Tears’ is not an exhibition of art objects that jar with themselves and the white cube; ‘Furtive Tears’ is an exhibition of settings that overturn the arias of history with elegance, respect and a smidgin of the perverse. The artist's gold-leaf dead-bird vases (with fresh lilies) placed on midget-columns hum against the rooms’ blue insides (and outside where Autumn teases Dublin with the alien Summer just gone). McCann elates in her soprano formalism but her subject’s tone is more base, rattling with the cancellation of life (or life borne of the craw of death). Status too is cancelled as one of McCann’s political protagonists tries to hold his suited pose, his political posture, on the most absurd of platforms, the craters of the moon. Funny. Like Ursula Burke’s embroidered friezes of fighting politicians performing unraveling gestures across the river at the RHA, McCann elevates the pathetic to the arena of the Tragic, with her high-heeled-Panda-Bear-costume-wearing (“Boris”) circling nature and the city and the self; and higher again with her rock-a-bye taxidermy fawn suffocating its ill-formed and premature desires with latex, bitumen and blue neon. I forget the historical events and dates that Jim Larkin provoked, and I have neither interest nor intention of pretending to know them here in writing. All in all he had something to do with the Labour Movement and workers’ rights. What I vividly remember however from my secondary school history books, was the image of a rigour mortis figure clawing at the air as if its wings were caught in a clothes hanger. McCann testifies to this same memory in her new sonorous film that sets the mise en scène. Like the late Mike Kelley’s teddy bears turned inward in celestial clumps towards an inner image the teddies can only gaze upon, McCann’s sculptures have secrets that are coded by the artist's own private signified, blocked from the public’s glandular gaze. We are thrown amidst a blossoming of furtive gestures, sweet and perverse, gifted and received….. [When you know the notes to sing You can sing most anything Doe, a deer, a female deer Ray, a drop of golden sun Me, a name I call myself Far, a long, long way to run Sew, a needle pulling thread La, a note to follow Sew Tea, a drink with jam and bread That will bring us back to Do So Do  Re La Fa Mi Mi Do Fa Re So So Do La La Fa Ti La So Fa Mi Re Ti Do oh oh Ti Do So Do♪]...

 

Through 6 January 2019.


so far…

POLICE.


 URSULA BURKE.  RHA GALLERY, DUBLIN.  3.10.2018.  11.45AM.  SUNNY.  ✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO JOHN COLTRANE’S  A LOVE SUPREME 🎧

URSULA BURKE.

RHA GALLERY, DUBLIN.

3.10.2018.

11.45AM.

SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO JOHN COLTRANE’S A LOVE SUPREME🎧


POLICE.

PAST the police barricades that sluice Dublin streets trickling with the last of the housing protesters, we are dragged Eastwards away from our destination. On the tip of my tongue, and somehow defining our current predicament without voicing it, is that stock phrase made cringey by Irish politicians in media scrums to delay and deflect from discussing a lie or telling a truth…..After a series of “this way” and ”that way” we meet Ursula Burke’s solo exhibition in the upstairs RHA Gallery like a flat-footed centipede. Underfoot, timber floors creak and dream of a childhood that once upon a time warranted tippy-toes to evade the bullshit Police (your ‘annoying’ parents). The RHA Gallery is no childhood bedroom, but with the bullshit Police still asleep ‘bedroom’ the RHA remains as we become self-conscious of our collective heel and breath in this barn of a gallery space that shouts when you whisper. With Mam’s and Dad’s and the Nanny State’s ears pricked, we march on, telling myself that my intellectual and political uncertainty will not be swayed by previous wet beds and present political stock phrases. This is psychoanalysis! Explicitly implicit. We would soon discover that Burke’s exhibition, titled ‘The Precariat’ (a portmanteau of precarious merged with proletariat), is cast in the social sphere, policed and professed at the door by a high-vis artist statement that tells all but, fortunately, not nearly enough. We will not be directed! We will not be told! Anymore, anyway. Burke is from the North; the exhibition shouts ‘Troubles’ when you learn that lazy fact. Her unravelling hand-embroidered friezes—haunted by the gleeful memory of Grayson Perry’s factory-made tapestries displayed in the same gallery not a year ago—portray fighting politicians that news media are so fond of bookending a tragic story so we all return to our embroidered lives after hearing the unravelling of others. It’s like these friezes were made by chance in the studio; one strand unravelled in the making to lead Burke to loosen a shock of hair: political power and aesthetic play at play. Grayson Perry’s, in all seriousness, elicit laughter; Burke’s elicit just seriousness, even in the angled corners of our smirks at the memory of those bloody-nosed punchy politicians. “Hit him? Again! Again! Ha!” Her works are lost here, aggrieved, mourning their resting place amongst the living. After the fight, bruised and battered porcelain heads breathe through pulpy orbits like wounded fruit waiting for the fruit flies; tapestries radiate firework head-dresses like that green goddess of vertiginous freedom, Lady Liberty; a porcelain pillow hides the dreamy keepsakes of flag, rosary beads and iPhone. For one student an invigilator’s vacated chair upsets the setting—embroidered friezes [chair] porcelain heads. So much so that the student becomes obsessed with the chair’s utilitarian promise and uncanny presence amidst the black and milky stoicism and conflict of race and woman. Burke’s work does that postmodern, Freudian, old-age, family-album thing of finding refuge in the past and eclectically vacuum-packing it in the present, like Doric columns hoisting up a mobile home crested by gilded eagles. Burke’s art is in no way cheap, but the chrome turnstiles through which her art purposefully strides from past to present is a field day or minefield for a group of Art and Psychoanalysis students, depending on how cultish they are becoming. I am no psychoanalytic scholar—she’s my Autumn mistress; neither are my students, yet. Does Burke’s art reach if not exactly erupt into the present? It is a tough ask. Like the Romans, our Postmodern precursors, did to the Greeks, the gaze of Burke’s magpie eye reaches all the way back to B.C. in her re-description of a Roman fresco painted directly onto the RHA Gallery wall, its “umbrella pine, quince, pomegranate, myrtle, oleander, date palm, strawberry, laurel, viburnum, holm oak, boxwood, cypress, ivy, acanthus, rose, poppy, chrysanthemum, chamomile, fern, violet, and iris” stripped of their originary lifeworld. The students huddle hear; the porcelain pillow intimating rest. One of them calls out JG Ballard’s The Drowned City (1972); another questions the birds’ eyes in relation to Freud’s paper ‘The Uncanny’ (1919) and his analytical unpacking of Hoffman’s tale of ‘The Sandman’ wherein the anxious child’s fear of having their eyes plucked out is paired with castration anxiety; while yet another invokes Carl Jung and the burdensome journey of Individuation from darkness to light. My favourite, however, is a student’s wonderment at Burke’s crying birds choosing to fly and perch low amid this paradise-turned-dripping-with-mascara vision with all that figurative and real space above them. Perhaps they are enjoying their symptom too much? we might propose or diagnose psychoanalytically. I return to earlier that morning on the way to class and the sounds that tweeted and screeched and screamed on a Dublin street tipping with footfall as the day started like it probably ended the night before. I imagine the source of the tweets and screeches and screams emanating from an artwork installed weeks now and the routine passersby indifferent to the cacophony that ricochets up and down and sideways past their wizened consciences. I was a tourist here, head in the sky with art on my mind. Strange that I found myself wanting to discover the source of the tweets and screeches and screams so I would stop imagining their source, to stop dreaming. I turn a street and there it is, a bright yellow machine with giant drill, tunnelling into a foundation of birds’ tweets and screeches and screams. “Kafkaesque,” that’s it. K a f k a e s q u e.

 


Through 21 October.


so far…

EYELASH.


 DANIEL RIOS RODRIGUEZ.  KERLIN DUBLIN.  12.9.2018.  11.52AM.  SUNNY.  ✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO ARCADE FIRE’S FUNERAL🎧

DANIEL RIOS RODRIGUEZ.

KERLIN DUBLIN.

12.9.2018.

11.52AM.

SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO ARCADE FIRE’S FUNERAL🎧


EYELASH.

PAINTING IS GOD to some. Religious or not, spiritual or not, transcendental or not, painting bespeaks an order, an ordering of things that’s testament to the painter’s faith in something bigger than the painter or painting but faithfully pointing with a giant finger at the world and the self through composition, symmetry and especially that dangling eyelash caught in the eye of a beautiful face. Daniel Rios Rodriguez’s paintings appeared in a group show in 2017 at Dublin’s Kerlin Gallery. If we are talking in terms of absolutes, his small paintings were the absolute highlight. His current solo show at Kerlin has been a year in anticipation, and by the look of things—theunionofthings—a year in the making, too (all painted in 2018). The raw surfaces and unruly edges of that blissful introduction over a year ago has given way to a room of paintings that seem at One with One another, as if Rios Rodiguez has found peace in a certain round format, what the robed Italians called the “Tondo”, a compositional device that gives priority to a mosh pit of figures in the foreground, while compressing space into unwieldy wedges in the background. The Tondo promotes perfection, but only One perfection; design: GOD IS DEAD didn’t you hear. Sometimes you find yourself being sucked into the centre of Rios Rodrigez’s Tondos like vortexes for the eye; other times they just feel flat, like desert runways miles away from the city, the centre. The gnarly edges from a year ago, where the eye tripped and fell and lodged on painted debris, is replaced by braided edges that fall away from the eyes rather than pricking them, and symmetries that wink at you as if asymmetry is a trick, a joke, an irony. There's no dangling eyelashes here, but I can't seem to shake something caught in my eye. [And Why? Why? Why? always the wholesome destruction? Is destruction—self and painted—more critical, more contemporary? Why not? Oh Why Not? resolution, completeness, a big oneness desiring big but forever always running on empty…..] The ‘as-you-were’ press release is brimming with cultural capital. The adopted mint includes The New York Times, Roberta Smith, Art in America, Kyle MacMillan and Forrest Bess. No surprise really considering the context. But all the same the chiffon is a little sheer, a little distracting, like walking in on Mam and Dad cuddling in a different way than they've been cuddling you since day one. Naiveté aside, legitimacy always needs a leg up when business is as usual. Up and over the wall the two cited ‘art critics’ (that's what they still call them in America) are pitted against one another to invoke an element of cachet subjectivity so you, me and everyone else can own Rios Rodriguez through their own personal Jesus. Forrest Bess is the bed with the most spring here, in a haunted room that bears a biographical cross; a big one. Last year I wrote in biographical detail about Bess (read here). In the act of writing I became entrenched in Bess’ biography as if his painting were lacking something in the present. [They’re not lacking!] Bess’ life story supplies another type of cultural capital that is sad but not irrelevant to the market, and for that matter the viewer’s appreciation and interpretation of his work. Like Bess, Rios Rodriguez is Texan; this is important in the artist’s referential attachment to Bess, not just by critics and galleries, but by Rios Rodriguez on his personal website. Biography (history) and the artwork have a sticky relationship in terms of cultural capital, and the interpretation and future legacy and love for an artist is sometimes dependent on biography; or at the very least coloured by it. Learning of an artist's biography will forever change how you look at their work. For good or bad, for or against, biography blinds. Those that indulge in those big, biographical banners spread-eagled on museum walls as a stand-in for the long-dead artist perhaps need to empathise with the artist through biography before they embrace the artwork in the gallery—we are suckers for a good story, especially a tragic one. This is a symptom of art appreciation that painter Merlin James asks us to ignore when critically appreciating painting. Merlin wants us to snip the umbilical cord to interpretation via autobiography altogether-—S-n-i-p-—Strange how when you disavow something like autobiography it ends up defining you: just you wait Merlin, those museum banners are in the making! (And don't worry, the less you give of yourself the more there is to fabricate by those ‘lacking’ biographers who may have given up on the present but will never give up on the past.) Bess’ autobiography is found in handwritten letters [Warning: “never trust the teller, trust the tale”]. The “tale” in Bess’ case is his paintings. For Bess, sexuality and immortality were somehow intertwined, and painting was a way to map his dreams and delusions to form a painting identity that was partly demonstrative of both a genetic and inflicted psychosis, what in friendly banter we call “eccentricity”. His paintings may seem raw and unruly but they are bound in rules: Bess played on a tennis court with the whole procession of umpire, linesmen and Hawk-Eye in attendance. Snipped from autobiography Bess’ paintings are securely placed in the “aesthetic plain”—the way his gallerist Betty Parsons wanted it. But his written correspondences tell a different story, of a man who stayed adherent to the thraldom of his dreams and delusions, and a grandiose desire to be omniscient: the “aesthetic”, in the end, was of secondary importance to immortality, which he may now have found, by proxy, in the afterlife through his paintings. And whether you negate or embrace the biography of the artist, in particular the tragic artist’s autobiography, Bess’ life cannot be denied. His visions, his choices, are all part of something bigger than him, beyond him, beyond aesthetic, beyond painting. I'm not saying that psychosis is the seedbed of creativity, of originality, but it is something we have to confront in many artistic personalities down through history, as sacrifice or seed. Bess’ biography is a mountainous iceberg both above and below the skin, both as unavoidable obstacle and in-road to his painting. Even a nod to this iceberg in a press release will distract from a biography and painting identity in the making, like Rios Rodriguez’s. Be careful whom you graft on to your work, you may end up wearing their skin. Forget Bess.


*FORREST BESS OPENS AT STUART SHAVE MODERN ART LONDON NEXT MONTH; BROWN REVIEW WILL BE THERE.

*ALSO; BROWN REVIEW WILL BECOME A HOMEMADE ZINE POSTED OUT EVERY 3 MONTHS. FIRST EDITION SCHEDULED FOR DECEMBER 1ST.


so far…

maʊð.


 THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE.  THE LIBRARY PROJECT.  19.9.2018.  12.20pm.  SUNNY.  ✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO JONI MITCHELL’S  BLUE 🎧

THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE.

THE LIBRARY PROJECT.

19.9.2018.

12.20pm.

SUNNY.

✍🏼WRITING WHILE LISTENING TO JONI MITCHELL’S BLUE🎧


maʊð.

What messages are being modified by their mediums in the exhibition ‘The medium is the message’ at Dublin’s The Library Project? Can we get a little closer to their [mediumness] if we are made aware of Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message”, a theoretical equation which posits how the “medium” (extensions of ourselves be it through technology or painting) influences how the “message” is perceived, shaped, patterned, sped up, scaled up….? In a way it is better to put McLuhan aside in order to avoid the artworks in this exhibition becoming mere illustrations of a theory. Do we care if something is handwritten or emailed today? Have we got over The Past, over intimacy, over each other? Got over our nostalgia for and fetishisation of obsolescence? It was just a tool to get the job done, right? Vinyl! Fuck the future when VR is like breathing and people jizz nostalgic over the dumb screens that people once screwed to their walls and groped with their palms. The past has privilege that the present cannot afford. New technologies will undoubtedly change us, are changing us, socially, politically, physically. We are moving forward, swiping across our handheld world while obsolescence rolls backwards with a cold and crushing O kicking up snowflakes as it rolls, r o l l s….. Get over it; it is done and dusted. An apathetic awareness of our contemporary world of dehumanising technologies is enough to move forward, move on. That is all we want—to move forward, onward. Yes? As the medium and message continually redefine their relationship to one another (and us) new arguments become old arguments recycled into forms more consumable and shitable. We can lazily philosophise and psychologise about our relationship to technology as one of distraction and distress, but we do not hear or act on criticism anymore because everything grows old very, very quickly, especially criticism. NOW or never. In a sense this exhibition invokes another 1960s clarion call by Susan Sontag, ‘Against Interpretation’—especially with Freud’s image plastered amongst the anonymous scribbles in Ermias Kifleyesus digital print found detached from its [mediumness] on the gallery window overlooking the distracted and distressed in Temple Bar. Come 1966 Sontag, a giant intellect, was tired of content in art. She was 33. Passionate and wishfully innocent (check out her use of the word “lame” in this seminal essay) her plea for an “erotics of art” for some is hard not to love and for others hard not to hate. In the essay Sontag is split between brain and body—the intellect and the instinct, content and form—where Jekyll sires Hyde night after day after night. Every time I read ‘Against Interpretation’ I imagine a drunken Sontag losing herself to the medium, to the senses, dancing with eyes closed, ears plugged, nose pinched in isolated sequence so as to embrace and experience each and every sense fully, wholly: One. More's the pity that this exhibition at The Library Project has a press release, forcing us to semanticly drift away from the medium to the message behind the exhibition. Press releases have a tendency of disembodying artworks, making the medium of art more manageable and administrational through the oversharing and shadowing of historical, social and biographical contexts. In this sense this exhibition is more illustrative of McLuhan’s equation, artworks entangled in an equation that needs proof, needs telling. But art in the gallery, once-removed from reality, from process, from the artist, from the medium—Don't Touch!—is always illustrative no matter how abstract or inviting or participatory. As viewers we can only ever imagine the artist holding and manipulating the medium. In the gallery the medium comes second-hand behind glass and formalities: intellect is our way into the medium. Art in the gallery is a jousting game of 10-metre poles and 10-inch plate armour; the press release an opening at the armpit—an armpit that does not smell. In the gallery our disembodied experience is projected onto an embodied activity that took place sometime, elsewhere. The gallery and its semiotics of display defines our experience of the medium in the gallery. We look. We smell. We hear. We read. We read again. We eloquently mouth (maʊð) Sontag’s plea for an erotics of art with words, with price lists, with biography, with reputation, with history. To maʊð—what a gloriously embodied word—is to mime speech or say nothing at all. All bite. No teeth. In Patrick Hough’s virtual and twirling sphinx we maʊð ‘How is it done?’ Its meaning and [mediumness] illusive. When we get past How? we notice one of the wings of the sphinx has been severed (Ever experience how the sight of a bird’s broken wing elicits the twinge of a phantom pain as if we once flew before words grounded us.) Chloe Brennan knows this, as she maʊðs verse from Virginia Woolf to form glass baubles that flirt awkwardly with a slip of timber; Lee Welch’s elevated painting of an angelic reader reading, hanging there whilst we read the artist is “guided” by a series of Tarot readings he performs on others (me included); Ciara Phillips’ image of a friend and fellow artist wearing her printed garment hugs itself in a constellation of screen-printed dots, the medium oscillating between dot and image, medium and message, and dependent on how close and how far you stand from the image, the printed dots produce a gravitational pull towards a greater intimacy with the medium. Primed, inked, stained, I fell and felt into Welch’s and Phillips’. Welch’s due in part to my personal experience of being Tarot-read by Welch in his studio, where I silently judged this painting while the upturned Tarot cards judged me to be both Jekyll and Hyde. These two works in particular say something significant about contact and art, and maʊð hope that the tangle between medium and message can breed an intimacy that is less illustrative of a message.


Curated by Alissa Kleist; through 29 SEPTEMBER.

 

so far…

TENNIS.


 SIBYL MONTAGUE  PALLAS PROJECTS  12.9.2018.  12.30pm.  SUNNY.

SIBYL MONTAGUE

PALLAS PROJECTS

12.9.2018.

12.30pm.

SUNNY.


TENNIS.

There’s a painting by the late Norbert Schwonkowski titled Bosch that shows an ill-formed human being (as if there were any other sort) in boxer shorts opening and reaching into a fridge humming with light against a murky river of that famous Schwonkowski slop that painters drool and wonder over. Slurp. Caught between night and day, celestial and corporeal, cold and temperate, dream and reality, quotidian and fantasy, right and wrong—I'll stop there—the ill-formed human is also caught between reaching and grasping the milk, the meat, the butter, the cold pizza, the best-before-date, the whatever, the whenever…..We don't know: the night thief’s hand, in the act of reaching and retrieving the object of desire, of need, of gluttony, is cut off at the wrist as if a crime is being committed in the act of committing it. We are caught—dumbstruck with drumstick—between the perishable past and the preserved present, like the milk, the meat, the butter, the cold pizza, the best-before-date, the whatever, the whenever. “Eat or be eaten,” I say. Schwonkowski’s fridge hooked on to me years ago; only time will tell if Sibyl Montague's work at Pallas Projects Dublin will do the same. I think it will. Like Norbert’s ill-formed human, Sibyl seems to have also raided the fridge in the middle of the night, the day, the past, whenever, in her regurgitation of perishables, the perished. Floor— wall— table— sky-bound we trip over shapes and ingredients that seem out of place here, revealing our limiting tastes while challenging them in that coldest and cleanest of fridges: a jar of chillies, Frankfurters, peanuts, beer, fillets of gelatine, bones of a bird, fur ball of faux fur, piss, condoms, sweaty, mâché’d, calcifying waste (and Hello Magazine)... there's lots here to taste and consume with eyes and nose but daren't imagine ingest with mouth. Here the mouth is for telling stories—pieces of Sibyl, pieces of me, pieces of you, pieces of celebrities, pieces of Sean. Sean's Story involves a satellite dish on its back like a beetle, like a sieve, like the fire that warmed last night's knacker drinking, with strewn beer cans drowned and hardened in plaster, in cement, in forgetting; memory set so as not to forget. I won't. I Promise. REMEMBER, remember, r e m e m b e r….. A Too Tall table tells stories, too, of Prohibition, of sex, of something past its best-before-date waiting to be jilted. On my watch, when the exhibition wasn’t officially open, mould was growing on the meaty slabs of gelatine. If left longer?… well that’s a story for the future. Like metaphor, the hook to real life is temperamental, temporary, personal, and although some stuff hooks to life better than other stuff, rust, mould, crow’s feet come with time. We live. We die. We leave stuff behind. Headphones hook a branch of another branch stood standing in a plaster placeholder ready to take you for a limp around the gallery like a portable IV Stand feeding you sounds that wean you further from sense, from this space. I take them off, here is what I want to remember, to be, for now. Anyone for tennis. Sibyl's white, wraparound racket tape elevates us from the downward plumbing of dirt where piss, beer, condoms, memories sieve through the gutter of our consumption, to a cleaner place. But bet Federer stinks in the fifth set; arse cracks don’t lie. This is not art tied in a bow or stepping on the purple coattails of a revisionist canon of art history as Daniel Rios Rodriguez does, dances, slips on Forrest Bess at Kerlin Gallery currently. Gentlemen please! No. The coattail that Sibyl is stepping on is muddy. Of course artists have used perishables before: shit, sperm, beans, whatever, whenever. I'm not going to look them up now and pretend I remember; I forget. I won't this. Remember the day we played tennis?

 

so far…

PROMISE.


 AILEEN MURPHY.  200 × 280CM.   [ Ingrid Lyons.  Aileen Murphy.  Kathy Tynan. ]   KK.  2016.

AILEEN MURPHY.

200 × 280CM.

[Ingrid Lyons.

Aileen Murphy.

Kathy Tynan.]

KK.

2016.


PROMISE.

PAINTING is better bigger; well the promise of big painting is better. We have so much of the incy-wincy ‘other’ that, what Lacan calls “The Big Other”, is a jettisoned orange dinghy farting against the big blue with no passengers to perform the pumped-up excesses that painting might need, painters might need, viewers might need. “Need” though is the wrong word here. We have all we need re’ good, small paintings; our needs are being met, satisfied. Though satisfaction does not dream or desire BIG, or feel the fallout from dreaming or desiring Yo! BIG. Art is not satisfaction. SATISFACTORY blemishes your school report but FAIL is the acne that leaves a crater. And you can’t fail BIG by painting small. Small painting is domestic, an empty cupboard, bite-size, private, pubic, Instagramable... inviting connoisseurship to what is objectified, not objectionable. Why the shortfall in excess, of BIG?—[small print] Boring excuses like storage and money aside. Always on the B-side of art history and A-list of contemporary painting, Merlin James claims that scale is driven by the art market. Too, that big paintings are “boring”, “academic” and a waste of space. What an injunction! In terms of International art market, a context that Merlin James is all too aware of and privy to, Merlin James is probably on the money. [note] The moment you tie a bigger price tag on your bigger paintings you are surrendering to a market that values bulk over promise, over art. But what of those more promising contexts that don't speculate on painting and painters in terms of money and transfers... ZZzzzzzwirner... If art is a luxury, a privilege, it ought to breed excesses where there are none, not more small furniture for those that live excessively. Not beige, but Big. Over here seems painters’ stomachs are full on gastric reduction. No dessert. No thought of dessert. No dream of dessert. I have a dessert belly; it is rumbling. I can count on two hands the significant moments I have experienced big painting abroad, but those moments are BIG MOMENTS. Here, in Ireland, one hand is enough, minus the middle finger. What constitutes big painting and a middle finger? Paintings bigger thaN 200CM that absolve painting from its frame and swivel on a "fuck you" of crumbling resolve. Tuymans at 347 × 500CM; Alex Katz at 274.3 × 548.6CM; Monet at 200 × 1276CM; Courbet at ‎315 × 660CM; Chris Martin at 26 FEET TALL; Amy Sillman All-Over; Laura Owens floor-to-ceiling; Richter; Schnabel. Here, in recent years, BIG has been promised as a gestalt of cumulative marks on a wall: Cliodhna Timoney at former Eight Gallery Dublin; Lee Welch at Catalyst Belfast. Sugar and Salt both. But Timoney and Welch did not wedge a gallery with a canvas like Brian Maguire’s 290 × 387CM at IMMA this year, or swallow three people like Aileen Murphy's 200 × 280CM at KK in 2016. PROMISES, promises.

 

P.S. Speaking of small painting, Forrest Bess opens at Stuart Shave Modern Art this October through December.
 


so far…

REQUITED.


 MARY REID KELLEY AND PATRICK KELLEY.  BUTLER GALLERY, KILKENNY.  23 AUGUST  3.30PM.  SUNNY.

MARY REID KELLEY AND PATRICK KELLEY.

BUTLER GALLERY, KILKENNY.

23 AUGUST

3.30PM.

SUNNY.


REQUITED.

Seated watching Mary Reid Kelley’s and Patrick Kelley’s first film in the first room of four rooms at the bunkerish Butler Gallery, silhouettes arrive fluttering at the entrance. Unwilling to place a bigger flutter with their time and taste and fears, they flit away. Unrequited. A pity. As an ex-painter, Mary Reid Kelley well knows that painting et al is always given yet another chance after a history of chances to be accepted or turned down in the gallery; but film in the gallery—not on TV or cinema—is forever met with circumspection, sometimes derision, even disappointment that art is not what it says on our tin. Ironically, the ‘unrequited’ is a thing that Mary and Pat deal with on screen. So this is to you, Mary and Pat, requited.  


Where have you been all my art life, Mary and Pat? It seems I've been missing out according to your intimate retrospective at Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. I've seen versions of you in art college minus such attention to detail; experienced you in performances minus your charisma and control; read you in artworks that brave the pencilled tightrope between image and text minus your playful respect for language. Blush. Stitched together, my art experiences—comprised of minuses--------compose you in that monster-under-the-lightning-bolt kind of way. But no monster ever lived up to the fantasy of the monster. In reality, monsters are not fantasies; reality and fantasy never agree in their realisation of each other; they are opposites, diametrically opposed, like childhood ghost and adulthood serial killer. Black and white, reality vs fantasy, your world is beset by binaries, but somehow these binaries are not expressed as either/or or neither/nor. Your world is located somewhere… between, in the hinterland of cartoon and concentration camp, bedtime story and brothel, joy and nihilism, past and present, in a voice, your voice Mary, that creaks of adolescence, of... C o r a l  i n e. It's all inappropriately appropriate. A doubled-barrel bludgeoning of fantasy and reality where your monster-subject and fantasy-object conjoin. Ha! A sexually frustrated aviator falls in love (and on his own ‘sword’) with a ballerina pet-named “Camel Toe” and gifts “Camel Toe” a toy that gets closer than he ever will to her namesake, over and over and over again.  Ouch!  Unrequited. A war-curtained submarine crew distil their obsolescence in drink and Dada to submerge deeper into the depths of fantasy til ‘reality’ comes knocking on their tin can via a TV broadcast from President Truman and the bombing of Hiroshima. Unrequited. But, but, but... the lighting struck on experiencing your metap-her and metony-him of a raw recruit with literary ambitions and evasive manoeuvring from the reality of war and the fantasy of sex as he steps from the safety of his well-read writing desk to the unmade beds of a brothel. She's a “whore of metaphor” your enigmatic Belgian prostitute tells us, you tell us, a literary pin-up and literal contrivance, who, like a cat with a mouse, plays with the raw recruit’s raw recruitments through emotionally detached wordplay dripping with innuendo and dry with experience.  Your prostitute’s reality is not composed of words, but Vaseline and foreskin, saline fluid and vajajay. No need to repeat the cento and spolia and drag of your methodology and well-read references, this is expression on repeat, not knowledge, not information. “Expression is all we want... Not Knowledge but vent” (Emerson). Unrequited love, unrequited communication, unrequited redemption, this is not a union of fantasy and reality as the world of metaphor intimates, it's displacement of time, of love, of sex, of language, of power, of woman. Requited.


so far…

MILK.


 AILEEN MURPHY  KK  14 AUGUST  11.12AM.  CLOUDY.

AILEEN MURPHY

KK

14 AUGUST

11.12AM.

CLOUDY.


MILK.

Man with muscles points to two tables, left and right: “‘Table Diana Copperwhite’ to your left, ‘Table Aileen Murphy’ to your right.” Seated at Table Aileen Murphy you strain to see the Copperwhites through those oily-pools-of-water-beneath-leaky-car neon galaxies that drench booth in celestial metaphor, and most of all, that veil of regularity that summons distance—Diana has been a frequent exhibitor of late. At Table Aileen Murphy painting is served fresh, crusty, viscid, waxy, fragrant, curious and, considering those celestial skies in the distance, down to earth. Last few outings at KK have seen Aileen Murphy as designated wingwoman (at least she’s designated you might argue and to the credit of KK). But all the same Table Aileen Murphy continues to be paired with regular female soloists, so the experience of her work has always been in terms of two, comparison, retreat, irregularity. Situated by office that hides in plain sight, unless you’re a pal, a regular, gets one thinking that artists should not aspire to be regulars, when you are tolerated rather than loved. Artists ought to miss exhibiting before they exhibit, and we as peers, as viewers, should be missing them, wondering what became of them. They should be on milk cartons at breakfast not wanted posters at dusk. Aileen Murphy has been on the horizon for some time, but never here, always over there as wingwoman and student in Germany, but a painter that could crack out big painting if given both wings to wing it. She’s over there again at KK but at least her paintings are crashing on the shore over there. And there's lots of wiping out at Table Aileen Murphy at KK, and man with muscles seems too fussed about his own appearance to care to clean up the cumulative mess. So what you get is what you get: fits and starts of sinewy drawing and scalping with paint brush that leaves paint dry, caked, spattered, minced, eviscerated, disemboweled, bloody, bodily, in parts, but fully embodied—painting with organs, tongues, ears, innies and outies, soles of shoes, like Guston before, who smoked and ate while painting. It’s brink of the edge stuff, painting turned inside out, skin and soul. Not in the least virtuoso, or knowing or showing off, but inward, innards. Sniff. A lot of it is fucking up, left, kept; self-criticism as fruitfully productive: colour. C o l o u r. Graduate gowns and tasteful tongues are given up for a dunce hat and dribble. At Table Aileen Murphy painting is closer to itself, unsure, insecure on an atomic level. Depressed confetti. Joy on replay rather than trauma on repeat. Asked the question “Was it good for you?” Your reply is, “Don't know?” A question for a question. Perfect. Good painting is hard come by and hard to overcome. Minds haven't been made up yet “wingwoman”, but guts have. 
 


so far…

RED.


 STEPHEN LOUGHMAN  TBG+S DUBLIN  14 AUGUST  3.55PM.  SUNNY.

STEPHEN LOUGHMAN

TBG+S DUBLIN

14 AUGUST

3.55PM.

SUNNY.


RED.

RED Stephen Loughman’s press release. Red horny exposé article with glossy crotch displayed on bench on exiting gallery. Movie references abound here. See. Stephen Loughman doesn’t flirt with reference, he goes to the drive-in cinema, gets comfy and goes from first to fist base (as they say in the movies). His commitment to the pause button is True Love until the FFW>> button turns his head—marriage to mistress in a filmic moment. Cold, calculated, dealing in doubles as a figurative painter until the movie still warms the blood of even stiller paintings. But the dumb-double that press releases present, that institutional drug, rug, dog, this time, this place, puts the referential Ex centre stage, where Loughman’s painting ought to be, and is, until you read or have ‘red’. Like how Netflix's end-of-season-squishy-couch-get-together cracks the mirror of the Other, an Other you have endured and loved more than your real friends… So Don’t! Don’t read! If you haven't already 'red'. Painting is better beside itself, not on a squishy couch with douchebags. Look. Look how Loughman’s sequential diptychs violently show-up how boring solo figurative painting is, including his own here, even when locked into an overarching narrative. Loughman shows us that we can't play ping-pong with one; and teaches us to experience space and narrative and desire as a curve rather than a line. Ain't saying Einstein ain't sexy but Loughman's diptychs make relativity curvier, Lacanian. So if you did what I did— ‘read’ or “red” —then splice at moment you picked up aforementioned gloss and toss, and engage onomatopoeia for tape cassette rewind. Back<<back to meeting the gaze of gallery invigilator; back<<back to a painting I criticised as mere ‘scenery’ relative to the ping-pong complexity and painterly splendour of Loughman’s two real diptychs—and one imagined that is not a diptych but implied diptych due to architectural doubling; back<<back to Duchampian glory and nesting hole for yin-yang wink-wank contemplation; back<<back to diptych No. 2 with chair-barricading-door scenarios that inhales—depending on your pills—the breadth of horror movie cliché in one breath and  Joseph Kosuth in the next, exhale; back<<back to more solo-scenery and mood levellers and to diptych that is not a diptych; back<<back to first sideward glance and smile at diptych No. 1 with ‘Red’ Ford Cortina slipping, sliding and diving into night and ice. Door. 


so far…

MM.


 CAFÉ PAINTING.  BY MM.  WATERFORD CITY.  SATURDAY.  11 AUGUST.  2018.  4.19PM.  RAINING.

CAFÉ PAINTING.

BY MM.

WATERFORD CITY.

SATURDAY.

11 AUGUST.

2018.

4.19PM.

RAINING.


MM.

MY WIFE SEES IT, I SEE IT, WE SEE IT. After securing respite from rain and riot in a crowded café, our rioters wrestle with hot chocolate from adult mugs. A painting; a snow-scape. Nothing extraordinary beyond weight and symmetry of composition, and the tête-à-tête between off-centre this and that. But a backward step from perceived clichés tells us something different. A foregrounded fence, a somewhat silly retention, real or imagined, challenges first impressions beyond and before the pale: the painter that painted it, the covert context that cradles it, us as observers coveting it, and the price tag 85 tethered to it. (FYI: the image does not wrap around the edges as café paintings seldom don’t.) Phew! What painter hurdles a timber fence to take a photograph from such a sheepish sentiment in the brrr of winter... and then commit it to paint, to public scrutiny, to time? Not a friend; no a stranger, penned in before a paradise, or an image of a paradise chosen because it is exactly what it’s not, what it can’t ever be. Even if the painter didn’t hurdle; even if the painter chanced upon this scene in the snow or upon some cosy kitchen table, this painted image of something lost and out of reach is paradise found, painting figured. Sure. Another detached painter living off flat images of flat images with deep, liquid intentions—abjection comes in white too, as absence, as possibility. Pew! But how deep a thread of canvas can be if a painter is not so... so-so. “There There.” Here the details are entrenched. Here—there—where the fence meets the painter’s lovingly gabled initials, MM (Like Lolita’s HH); where the pure shadows thrust against the lying snow; where the evergreens pose a problem; where the Y-fronts trail comes skidding from the house—exit and entrance, a past and a present as arbitrary and innocent as brown fingerprints that decorate two white mugs.


so far…