Irish artist Isabel Nolan (born 1974) attended the National College of Art and Design and the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology. She works in sculpture, painting, textiles and text and explores notions of reality and identity, and the human compulsion to understand and define our situations and relationships with others. Nolan has exhibited in Ireland and internationally since the late 1990s, including solo exhibitions at The Model, Sligo, in 2011 and the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint Etienne Métropole in 2012.
The startling objects of Isabel Nolan’s art take wildly unpredictable forms, but they are at the same time the fully consistent outcomes of a singular, searching artistic sensibility. Nolan’s works evolve out of almost scholarly processes of investigation — intensive enquiries into cosmological and botanical phenomena, perhaps, or analytical scrutiny of literary and historical texts. These contrasting means of representing reality (and of comprehending its infinitely various components) provide divergent points of departure for Nolan as she attempts to somehow account for the enduring strangeness of the world, even in its most intimately familiar forms.
Recent large-scale sculptures in particular have demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to realize in elaborate form the uncertainties of the questing, subjective consciousness. Such works often have the appearance of grand metallic doodles – line drawings that might imply efforts towards rational modeling or more impulsive sketching, but that are
rendered dramatically, imposingly real. These sculptures (such as Slow Dirty Solution, 2013) have an inhuman heaviness and scale, and yet their precariousness — their barely held-together state — might well speak of states
of mind as much as material tensions.
Nolan’s recent solo shows include the The Black Moon, curated by Sinziana Ravini in Palais de Tokyo, Paris and a solo in The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne, France (2012). She represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition, ‘Ireland at Venice 2005’.
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