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Public and Private Narratives

An exhibition from the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s own Collection exploring the many ways in which visual artists respond to issues and events that have either personal or public significance opens at the Sligo Art Gallery on Thursday 13 January 2005. Public and Private Narratives: Selected Works from the IMMA Collection comprises paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations which illustrate the ways in which artists give visual expression to both public events and private experiences. The exhibition also deals with the means by which important public events are celebrated visually.  Featured in the exhibition are works by contemporary Irish artists such as Dorothy Cross and Brian Maguire and the Portuguese-born painter Paula Rego.
Paula Rego’s prints draw on the tradition of children’s storybook illustration.  For example, in The Baker’s Wife  the exaggerated changes of scale are reminiscent of that  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The artist uses a variety of tones to intensify still further the dream-like quality of the work and the dark shadows add a new and terrifying dimension to the familiar nursery rhymes. Stories, such as Little Miss Muffet, which are traditionally for children, are given a very grown-up imagery that borders on unpleasantness, particularly in this etching.

Brian Maguire deals with ideas of alienation and isolation within society and personal relationships.  His work has been at the cutting edge of contemporary Irish art in spite of the fact that he continued to use the medium of painting at a time when it was not popular.  As artist-in-residence in state prisons, Maguire sees himself as much an outsider as the inmates with whom he works.  His expressionistic painting brings the hidden corners of the individual’s experience to our attention with a raw energy and psychological power. The artist states: “All my pictures come from a need to accept reality as I find it.  But they are pictures.  I spend a lot of time trying to make them coherent in a formal sense, to make them beautiful – beautiful to me, maybe not to others”. Liffey Suicides effectively shows the artist’s ability to demonstrate the distances that separate us, by choosing to paint his picture from the darkness of the water below the bridge from which the living peer down.
Other men’s flowers by the well-known, and indeed controversial, British artist Tracy Emin is a portfolio of text which, typically of Emin, is autobiographical and even printed in her own handwriting, bringing her own personal narrative into the public arena.

Also shown is documentation of Ghost Ship by Dorothy Cross, a public art project in which Cross painted a decommissioned lightship in phosphorescent paint and moored it in Scotsman’s Bay, Dun Laoighaire, creating a ghostly presence, which repeatedly appeared and disappeared, in the dark sea.
Commenting on the exhibition Catherine Marshall, Head of Collection at IMMA, said: “While never, for a moment, straying from the visual, contemporary artists show extraordinary ingenuity in putting narratives of public and private experience across.  That is very difficult now, since there is no longer an agreed history or version of events.  These artists manage to overcome that hurdle in the most exciting and innovative ways.” 
An exhibition guide accompanies the exhibition (price 4.00 euro).
Public and Private Narratives: Selected Works from the IMMA Collection continues until 5 February 2005.
Admission is free.

Opening hours:   10am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday.

For further info and colour  and black and white images please contact Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353 1 612 9900, Fax: +353 1 612 9999, Email: [email protected]