Seven Paintings by Anne Madden (b.1932) is a series made during the Covid-19 pandemic. It follows a sixty-year international career, during which the artist has produced a powerful and distinctive body of work. Madden’s themes explore the transformative forces and cyclical nature of life and experience. Ideas of the empyrean, the subterranean and of the emergence from darkness to light have informed all of her work; from her earliest canvases of the glaciated Burren landscape, her series of Megaliths, Monoliths and Doorways from the 1970s, the Elegy, Pompeii, Odyssey and Garden series of the 1990s, and since 2003 atmospheric phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis.
Madden’s present series continues to excavate the human imprint through themes of death, rebirth, liminality and hubris, and draws on ancient forms and mythologies that give potent shape and expression to the anarchic forces and uncertainties of today. The paintings reference Antigone, Ariadne and Daphne, archetypal women whose voices are not silenced, in spite of their fate, and who connect with existential, feminist perspectives today. In their midst is Ann Lovett – a young girl of our time. Death of Ann Lovett (1968-1984), recalls the teenager’s tragic death in childbirth in a religious grotto in rural Ireland and the surrounding hypocrisy, silence and the failure of the social system, an event which continues to resonate in Irish society. Painting more figuratively than in the past Madden continues to be “in thrall to the infinite possibilities of the transformative power of paint”.
Anne Madden (b. 1932, London, UK) spent her first years in Chile. Her family moved to Europe when she was four and lived in Ireland and London. She attended the Chelsea School of Arts and Crafts. In 1958 she married the Irish painter Louis le Brocquy. Madden’s work, abstract at first glance, but generally with a figurative element, regularly carries references to her Irish background as well as reflecting on life and death.
Madden’s works from the 1960s on are inspired by the glaciated landscape of the Burren, pre-historic landscape, notions of the empyrean and the subterranean, astronomy and megalithic structures. While another aspect of her practice during this time responded to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
From the 1990s, Madden’s works reflected ancient Mediterranean civilizations in series such as Pompeii, Oddessy and Garden that draw on themes of death, rebirth, liminality, hubris and human imprint.
Since the 2000s she has responded to climate, weather patterns, the Aurora Borealis and the effects of the Anthropocene as well as existential, feminist perspectives through ancient cycles.
Madden has exhibited widely, including a significant retrospective at IMMA in 2007. She is a member of Aosdána and is represented by Taylor Galleries, Dublin.
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