1 May – 26 July 2015
A pioneer of Conceptual Art and author of the renowned Inside the White Cube, Brian O’Doherty / Patrick Ireland has made a major new Rope Drawing, which is been exhibited for the first time at IMMA this summer. A recent gift to IMMA by the artist, it is entitled The doors to good and evil and the windows to heaven – Christina’s World, Rope Drawing #124, (2015). An immersive installation, the work features vibrant blocks of colour and white cords which, when viewed from a particular point, snap into extraordinary sight appearing to leave the gallery wall. The point of convergence of the two main ropes (lines) on the floor is an oblique reference to the location of the sitter in Christina’s World, (1948), one of the most adored and maligned American paintings of the 20th century by Andrew Wyeth, about whom O’Doherty wrote in American Masters.
O’Doherty’s enduring obsession with themes of language, perception and identity are further represented in the exhibition by a selection of his works from the IMMA Collection dating from 1954, before he moved to New York, to the present day. These include In the Wake (Of) (1963-1964), a small sculptural work that engages with Joyce’s labyrinthine novel, Finnegans Wake, in many ways fronting up to the author. An approach O’Doherty takes again using a quotation from Jonathan Swift in A Modest Proposal, (1980), a political work that playfully remaps Ireland.
A number of other Collection works by Irish artists are also receiving their first IMMA showing as part of Fragments, including a wall-based sculpture by Aleana Egan The sky looks down on almost as many things as the ceiling, (2013) and commissioned works by Praneet Soi, Ronan McCrea and Alan Phelan. McCrea’s Medium (Corporate Entities) is a photographic enquiry into spaces where corporate art collections are hung. Originally developed as part of a 2008 exhibition at IMMA titled 10,000 to 50, it is fascinating to reflect on the changing corporate and economic landscape in the intervening seven years. The artist has re-edited the work to create a new version for this exhibition. For this new version McCrea has added the sound of footsteps, with a voice reading a script that he has devised by using a cut-up technique on the original catalogue essays for the 2008 show. The projected images in this version dissolve slowly into each other, creating a complex, dreamlike experience.
Alan Phelan’s work Include Me Out of the partisan manifesto, (2012) (Note to editors: Please note the unusual typesetting of the title with partisan and manifesto in lower case) was the starting point for a wider curatorial collaboration with the artist. As part of IMMA’s new strategies for showing the collection, Phelan worked with IMMA’s curator to place works within the exhibition, interrogating relationships and confronting selection choices.
Alan Phelan worked most specifically on an element of the exhibition that interrogates the concept of the White Cube. Phelan was invited to engage with a pre-selected set of works, primarily drawn from the Gordon Lambert Trust. Working with IMMA Collection curators this section considers the role of the collector, their personal eye, and the nature of the domestic setting in which the work is initially displayed. A Bird of Paradise flower is placed next to a wall work by Deborah Brown, highlighting the flash of orange within the work in the same way that Gordon Lambert displayed it in his home. Domestic scaled sculptures by Brian King, Frank Morris and Michael Warren further connect with Gerda Frömel’s practice, Warren having cited Frömel as the only Irish artist of any real significance working in Ireland at the time, and the selection reflects the domestic scale of her early work.
There are many other references within this rich exhibition that relates to the overall IMMA programme. A focus on sculpture in its various forms is connected to Gerda Frömel’s retrospective in the Garden Galleries and a new exhibition by contemporary UK sculptor Karla Black, also opening today. Several styles of drawing are threaded through the exhibition, echoing both Frömel and visiting Portuguese artist Diogo Pimentão. Following a short residency at IMMA Pimentão has developed new work, currently being exhibited in the Garden Galleries. Diogo’s practice informed the programming of Resonance; a remarkable suite of five paintings by Shirazeh Houshiary, which are inspired by quotes from the Sufi poet Rumi. This further connects to a recent donation by Outset Nederlands of the work Srinagar by Amsterdam-based Indian artist Praneet Soi. The work on show comprises a slide projection and 44 remarkable handmade papier-mâché tiles, made in collaboration with craftsmen in Srinagar, Kashmir. The intricate drawings and selection of colours on the tiles were made by Soi and derive from his photographs and research into the disappearing Sufi culture of Srinagar.
Numbering over eighty works, this large exhibition filling the East Wing, Fragments continues to include GILBERT & GEORGE’s large-scale photowork Smoke Rising, (1989), Nigel Rolfe’s Dance Slap for Africa, (1983) and other works with an emphasis on performance including a film by Phil Collins and historic works by Marina Abramović.
Fragments also includes a number of Subjectivist works by WW II imigrès, the White Stag artists, bequeathed by the late artist Patrick Scott to IMMA in 2014. Scott exhibited with the White Stag from 1941 and the group swopped each other’s paintings. The donation is particularly rich in key works by Kenneth Hall who was a close friend of Scott.
Saluted by Scott in his painting Hats off to Camille, (1976), (IMMA Collection, not on show), the career of Camille Souter, now in her 85th year, is celebrated with a room of her works from the IMMA Collection. The selection presents some of her finest paintings from the 1950s and 60s and point to her interest in Joan Miró, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock and European Tachiste Art.
Fragments, borrows its title from philosopher Walter Benjamin who notably compared the work of translation to that of re-assembling fragments of a broken vase – the individual fragments must come together, but need not be like each other. An allegory that is somewhat ideal for exhibition making and collecting.
Additional Information for Editors
List of Artists
Marina Abramović; Jean (Hans) Arp; Deborah Brown; John Burke; Lynn Chadwick; Eduardo Chillida; Phil Collins; Edward Delaney; Aleana Egan; Tom Fitzgerald; GILBERT & GEORGE; Kenneth Hall; Hilary Heron; Shirazeh Houshiary; Caoimhe Kilfeather; Brian King; Ronan McCrea; James McKenna; F.E. McWilliam; Frank Morris; Leopoldo Novoa; Eilis O’Connell; Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland; Betty Parsons; Alan Phelan; Pablo Picasso; Kathy Prendergast; Nigel Rolfe; Praneet Soi; Camille Souter; Telegeneak (aka Thomas Sivuraq); Michael Warren; Alexandra Wejchert.
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