August 16, 2001
RTÉ Interactive entertainment
www.rte.ie
Noëlle Harrison
Kilkenny Arts Festival 2001
le Brocquy, Helnwein and O'Malley
The visual focal point of the arts festival has to be Gottfried Helnwein's huge photographic images displayed on the streets of Kilkenny. Originally from Austria, Helnwein is now based in County Tipperary. His display of works on the streets of Kilkenny, and in Butler House, is testament to the power of this man's visual imagery. Helnwein's concerns could be viewed on a political level, indeed in his own homeland his work has been hounded by controversy, as he directly pinpoints neo-Nazi neuroses. 'Epiphany I: Adoration of the Magi' depicts a beautiful Madonna and Child being examined by Himmler's elite SS officers. This is strong stuff, with piercing connotations on the interaction of religion, politics and power in the 20th century. Juxtaposed with these images are a series of enlarged photographs of children's faces from Kilkenny. Hung in the same manner as billboard advertisements on buildings and walls, these photographs, with their silent, shut-eyed subjects, are meditative comments on life in the making.
Mary-Sheila Walsh, Aoife Connelly and Eimear Connelly
2001
Kilkenny Arts Festival 2001
Kilkenny has a reputation for attracting artists, both home-grown and from further afield. The visual arts programme for this year's festival is testament to the abundance and diversity of art based in the region. There are exhibitions virtually everywhere you go - and a continual cycle of openings - from international artists to a packed programme of local fringe art exhibitions.
Perhaps a good place to start is at Contours, described as an "array of Kilkenny artists", on show at the County Hall. Here under one roof it is possible to see how varied and confident the work of Kilkenny-based artists really is. From Joan Fitzgerald's expressive figurative work, to Suzanna Crampton's ethereal photographic composition and Francis Tansey's polished geometrical forms it is clear that each artist in this show possess their own unique vision.
Tony O'Malley's energetic and vibrant 'The Garden of Orpheus' is just one of the highlights, which also includes Jean Conroy's subtly fragmented mixed media piece, the arrested movement of Fintan Blake Kelly's steel sculpture 'ABC', Paula Minchin's 'All Gone', pulsating with Latin passion, and Judith Knipe's delicate and restrained mixed media composition 'Vessels'.
Running alongside Contours is a studio trail of both established and emerging artists in the exhibition. This excellent idea is an absolute must for any serious art student. Some of the studios, such as Francis Tansey's Ballyreddin Art Studio in Bennettsbridge, are also holding excellent group exhibitions in situ.
The Studio Trail is evidence that some of the visual art activities in the festival are not necessarily based in Kilkenny. Indeed one of the most exciting exhibitions, Master Printmakers Ireland and UK, is on show at the Grennan Mill Craft School in Thomastown. Here the prints of four great contemporary artists - Leon Kosoff, Louis le Brocquy, Albert Irvin and Tony O'Malley - are on view.
The show is a revelation as we are given an opportunity to see how each artist responds to the challenges of the medium. Louis le Brocquy's lithographic prints not only show the process leading up to the finished works but a series of dense compositions full of pattern and movement - an interesting contrast to the celebrated sparseness of many of his paintings.
The two UK-based artists are completely contrasting: Leon Kosoff's drypoint etchings are sombre, and possess strong European traditions in drawing, whereas Albert Irvin's explosive and colourful screen prints reflect developments in screenprinting in England and America over the past fifty years. Tony O'Malley's series of carborundum prints are vibrant evocations of visits to Italy and Lanzarote, which are closely connected in spirit to his works on canvas. Amazingly much of the work in this exhibition is for sale, an extremely sound investment for any serious art collector.
"Epiphany", Installation in Kilkenny
2001
'Epiphany I: Adoration of the Magi' depicts a beautiful Madonna and Child being examined by Himmler's elite SS officers. This is strong stuff, with piercing connotations on the interaction of religion, politics and power in the 20th century. Juxtaposed with these images are a series of enlarged photographs of children's faces from Kilkenny. Hung in the same manner as billboard advertisements on buildings and walls, these photographs, with their silent, shut-eyed subjects, are meditative comments on life in the making.
A similar theme is picked up in Helnwein's paintings on show in Butler House. 'Angel Sleeping IV' and 'Angel Sleeping V' depict stillborn babies preserved in the Federal Pathological Anatomical Museum in Vienna. Although painted on a large scale, the images are far from shocking or repulsive. Instead they possess a poignant, and ethereal quality, their ghostly green tones speaking from another dimension.
Another challenging international artist Roman Signer, from Switzerland, is currently on show at the Butler Gallery. This exhibition is a succinct selection of his work giving us a glimpse of this man's fantastical world. For Signer, like a child who's imagination knows no boundaries, anything is possible - shooting rockets through forests, exploding barrels of paint, canoeing on a road, catapulting chairs out of a government building to mark the making of a new parliament…the list of his weird and wonderful activities go on.
Another challenging international artist Roman Signer, from Switzerland, is currently on show at the Butler Gallery. This exhibition is a succinct selection of his work giving us a glimpse of this man's fantastical world. For Signer, like a child who's imagination knows no boundaries, anything is possible - shooting rockets through forests, exploding barrels of paint, canoeing on a road, catapulting chairs out of a government building to mark the making of a new parliament…the list of his weird and wonderful activities go on.
Noëlle Harrison
2001
From top - le Brocquy Helnwein and O'Malley
What to see:
Contours in County Hall, Kilkenny until 14 September - Studio Trail 10 - 19 August - Master Printmakers Ireland and UK in Grennan Mill Craft School, Thomastown until 19 August - Gottfried Helnwein in Butler House, and installation in Kilkenny City Centre until 19 August - Roman Signer in Butler Gallery until 30 September
- Other recommended exhibitions: - Stevey Scullion in Kilkenny Train Station and Thomastown Train Station until 19 August - 'Beneath the Seams' Jean Conroy and Joan Brennan, 22a High Street, Kilkenny until 19 August - Group Show, Balyreddin Art Studio, Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny




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