Opening on 26 January 2017, IMMA presents War Changes Its Address: The Aleppo Paintings, a new series of work by Irish artist Brian Maguire. The paintings are a result of Maguire’s observations and photographs of the destruction caused by the struggle for control of the eastern and central areas of Aleppo, Syria.
An earlier exhibition, Over Our Heads the Hollow Seas Closed Up, (Kerlin, 2016), examined the refugee crisis then hitting Europe’s shores. As reflected in the both exhibitions, Maguire sees the war in Syria and the refugee crisis as being intricately linked. Taken collectively then, these exhibitions bear stark witness to the destruction of a city, and the human displacement caused by such destruction; manifested in the waves of Syrian refugees crossing into Europe.
As with all Maguire’s work, this exhibition emerges from a considered engagement with the political and social complexities of place and people. In 2016 Maguire travelled with Paris based artist John Lawler though France Italy, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Austria. Visiting many of the cities across the overland journey from Greece to Germany; a route familiar to so many Syrian refugees. In March 2017 he then travelled to the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo with Colm Laighneach. While in Aleppo Maguire engaged with the remaining local population and was struck by the fact that life there had persevered throughout the war, and in its aftermath was beginning to re-emerge. The research done by Maguire involves more than photography; he also undertook workshops with children affected by the conflict and talked to people living and working there about their experiences of living at war and under siege.
The resulting exhibition includes new, previously unexhibited works. All sharing the title Aleppo, these new paintings are made in a washed-out palette of browns, greys and blues, with the occasional small burst of colour. The uniformity of colour reflects the wiping out of detail and design caused by widespread destruction of the city’s architecture, and the seeming total removal of life from these streets. Rather than a vibrant colourful city, one of the oldest in the world, the viewer is left looking at a place that has been stripped of identity, as well as physically destroyed. The paintings call to mind a stage set, empty after the spectacle of war. The occasional small burst of colour speaks to the unquenchable urge for life to continue, even among the most unpromising of settings.
The exhibition title – War Changes Its Address – speaks to the never-ending cycle of war, constantly ongoing somewhere in the world, perpetuated for profit and power, at the expense of communities, countries and human lives. Maguire works partly in Paris, which plays host to a global armament fair in which heavy-duty weapons are presented in the manner of luxury goods; clean, well-designed, desirable. Maguire’s concern is that war is perpetuated by the global arms trade, indifferent to the suffering caused by their commerce and industry, the constant victim being the global poor, unrepresented in the media, and unseen by the majority of people in the West. Fuelled by a desire to see beyond the news coverage to gain a personal insight into the reality of the situation, Maguire’s Aleppo paintings document the ruined buildings of the city, offering a visceral and stark insight into the physical consequences of war.
A full programme of talks and associated events will accompany this exhibition and explore the inherent themes in more detail, with contributions from Brian Maguire, Sarah Glennie, Ghiat Ibraheem, Paddy Woodsworth, Colm Laighneach, Ben Stafford, Lara Marlowe, Elisa Perriguer, Ed Vulliamy and many others.
Brian Maguire, War Changes Its Address: The Aleppo Paintings is presented in the Courtyard Galleries at IMMA from 26 January – 6 May 2018. The exhibition is co-curated by Sarah Glennie, Director, NCAD and Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, IMMA. Admission is free.
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Friday 16 March 2018, 1.15pm, Meeting Point – IMMA Main Reception, FREE
Curators Lunchtime Talk Series
Ben Stafford, Exhibitions, IMMA presents a gallery walk through of the exhibition War Changes its Address: The Aleppo Paintings.
Friday 27 April 2018, 2.30pm, Johnston Suite, IMMA, FREE
Seminar / Bearing Witness – Creative & Critical Practice on the Frontline
Speakers include Brian Maguire (Artist); Lara Marlowe (Author, France Correspondent, Journalist, and Irish Times); Elisa Perrigueur (Film maker and Activist, Paris) Ed Vulliamy (Writer, The Guardian & The Observer, UK) and others.
Visit the IMMA Talks section of our website for a detailed public programme of talks, seminars, curatorial responses and blogs that offer a cross discipline of perspectives in association with the exhibition.
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