The Constructions of renowned Irish artist, Tony O’Malley are being exhibited for the first time as a complete collection in The Butler Gallery and last week we were privileged to have a look at the work before the opening on saturday.
The startling yellow title wall as the entrance to the exhibition is a suitable prelude to a body of work which comprises individual pieces equally as attention grabbing. These sculptural “constructions” are collages of wood, string, nails and vibrant oil colours. The Callan-born artist used debris and driftwood to construct these solid abstract works which have a three-dimensional cubist painting effect that draws the eye right around the construction. A lot of vertical lines feature in the pieces in the form of rows of string wound about nails in the wood giving some pieces the appearance of an instrument.
The diverse collection of abstract assemblages occasionally bear resemblance to the work of Pablo Picasso, particularly in the tropical totem-like constructions inspired by O’Malleys time in the Bahamas and particular stringed pieces in this exhibition are not unlike the instruments that feature in Picasso’s work.
O’Malley started constructing these pieces in the 1960s after he became a full-time artist and they became as much a part of his working practice as his drawings and paintings for which he is most famous. The textured surfaces of the constructions are painted either with vibrant tropical colours or with deep wintry tones and gives the pieces the abstract forms of portraits, harps, figures, landscapes, fish and crows.
As the previously overlooked collection from one of Ireland’s most famous artists, “constructions” presents Tony O’Malley’s painterly skills as three-dimensionally composed work which are engrossing in their own way. For this, Constructions is an exhibition not to be missed.
Curated by Anna O’Sullivan, Constructions runs from the 7th August to 31st October. 10am – 5.30pm with free admission