Revenants assembles a significant body of recent work by Cork-based artist Kevin Mooney. Bringing together paintings made between 2016 and 2022, Mooney’s practice visualises under-explored areas of Irish history.
As a colonised nation, there are large gaps in the record of our art history and material culture caused by poverty, famine and mass migration. Mooney’s work reconsiders these lacunae and reverse-engineers the ‘lost’ visual culture of this Irish diaspora, imagining it as a mutant absurdist folklore, and, in the process opening up thorny questions about cultural influence and transformation. His paintings hybridise imagery and visual languages from disparate transatlantic cultures to puncture some of the clichés of an Irish vernacular aesthetic and open up a space for critical reflection on the highly selective character of popular history.
Mooney has adapted his materials to reflect these concerns, moving from oil on canvas to work with acrylic, distemper and oil on jute. Jute is the material in which commodities are shipped around the world, foodstuffs like grain, rice or potatoes; and alongside these, movement of peoples, culture and ideas.
Revenants marks the gaps in our visual culture as a reverberant event in the Irish psyche, a traumatic break caused by famine and forced migration. Mooney’s uncanny imagery imagines the ghosts of these lost futures, reminding us that ghost stories are as revealing as they are disturbing, pointing to the complexities of our culture, past and present.
Revenants is curated by arts writer and a Government of Ireland Scholar, Sarah Kelleher. This exhibition is accompanied by a major new publication designed by Pony Ltd, with texts by Sarah Kelleher and Seán Kissane, Curator, Exhibitions, IMMA.
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