Michael Mulcahy is one of the artists most prominently associated with Neo-Expressionist painting in this country. His work expresses the deep restlessness which has led him to travel to Africa, and Australia, living with tribal communities, seeking a meaningful approach to life. His paintings hover between the figurative and the abstract, often carrying powerful shamanistic references from the cultures with which he has engaged. ‘The Navigator’, like much of his earlier work, expresses brooding sexual desire. The tension between the male figure and the brightly lit, womb-like opening is palpable, while the title may be a play on the name given to the sixth-century Irish saint, Brendan The Navigator, so called because of the belief that he sailed the then uncharted waters of the Atlantic. As such, it recalls a world where man, nature and religion were more closely entwined.
A period spent with the Dogon people of Mali led to a series of intense paintings incorporating symbolic forms based on their understanding of the constellations, and the religious beliefs associated for them with the sickle moon, the Dog Star, the egg-shaped star they call Potolo and other symbols of creation and sexuality. ‘Dogon Series 8’ offers a sizzling combination of dense marks and colours that seem to burn their way off the canvas, into the consciousness. They are essentially night paintings, giving the sense of a world come alive at night, when the earth cools after a day of scorching by the sun. Mulcahy, the shaman, foregrounds the healing, restorative activities of the night in these paintings. The very intensity with which he captures this impression creates a metaphor for the artist, who reveals things that are not always visible to the ordinary viewer.
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||157.5 x 165 cm|
|Credit Line||IMMA Collection: Donation, Vincent & Noeleen Ferguson, 1996|
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