Review: Nick Miller – ‘Painting Patrick: After Olympia and Venus 2011’

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Our first reaction to Nick Miller’s work was that the room was poorly lit, drawing more attention to the spotlighted painting at the back of the room. The painting,  ‘Painting Patrick: After Olympia and Venus 2011’, consists of a nude … Continue reading

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Review: Jacco Olivier

It was interesting to view artwork in a new space, as was the case with Jacco Olivier’s exhibition in the Kilkenny Courthouse the other day. After coming from the very contemporary work of David Beattie, some of the things that struck us initially were the more traditional aspects of this work.

The enlarged, projected, abstract paint marks, reminiscent of the work of Jackson Pollock, were filmed as a seemingly unending steady reel in two separate animations. The first work, Landscape, panning vertically on the wall-sized screen drew us in first, giving us an uneasy feeling. Landscape was interesting as at first it just looked like a flat moving painting without much depth. After a while it felt a bit eery trying to make out the shapes. The mesmerising 3D effect of the filming – using acetate sheets with separate paint elements creates a surprising clouded aerial view of an endless countryside, while the second work, Revolution, shows the scrolling right to left horizontal view of a universe.

Revolution is based on a fictional universe rotating around an axis. Each minute of the 24 minute animation represents an hour, drawing our attention to our universal surroundings. It shows a great variation in colours and light creating many different moods, starting with a view of the distant stars at the start of the day and passing through various views of rotating 3D planets, nebulae, asteroids, natural satellites and meteors. Something that struck us about this was the variation in Olivier’s painting techniques, at times very abstract and loose and at others very concise and measured brush strokes. Revolution at times alludes to a more micro-biological scale, showing floating cells or small worm-like creatures against a valve-like red backdrop.

Turlough Kelly, Suzanne Williams

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Review: Liam O’Callaghan ‘Bit Symphony’

Our first reaction to ‘Bit Symphony’ was a mixture of nerves and confusion.  Probably caused by the darkness and the obscure atmosphere. Ominous. A little room in the castle, the Muniments Room.

We sat in awe and wonder  …well kinda. It was fairly dark and we didn’t have a clue what was about to happen. The spotlight came on, we sat – attentive.  A tidy pile of old turntables and speakers. Then the repetition of sounds began.  Legend.  It felt like an out-of-body experience.  Then the music just kept ticking away, gradually becoming more intense.

The continuous build up of sound and rhythms made the experience class all round. Tipping and tacking and clicking and clacking to the little beats and sounds of the records, we stayed in the room for a good while.

Visually, the piece was more impressive than a duck on a skateboard (use your imagination!). Essentially, a big automated loop music machine. Just savage.  The constant spinning of records was hypnotic. The whole experience was just mind-blowing!

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Mark Grace, Leah Grace, Niamh Phelan

Photos by Turlough Kelly

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Review: Ann Craven’s Roses

From a distance this looks like a nice but plain exhibition – simply roses, black and white. However on closer inspection there’s a more thoughtful side to it. The artist first paints a bouquet of white roses, then paints the mirror image of the resulting oil on linen piece. They cause an odd and slow-grasping effect on the viewer. It reminds us of memories and how they begin to fade from the instance until they become more and more ambiguous.

Ann Craven began painting flowers after her mother’s death, painting the roses from her funeral. Craven believes the way the roses become looser and less defined is like the deterioration and loss of reality in memories from the instance of happening – the memories become like a photocopy of a photocopy.

In the exhibition on the desk is a bouquet of real white roses. This made some of us curious as to why the real roses were there, something about it seemed wrong. The real roses are, we think, obstructive to the intentionally non-decorative and unrealistic feeling the painted roses impress upon you.

The art has been displayed in New York, the pairs split between two galleries. Here at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, you are lucky enough to see the pairs intact. We definitely recommend that you see this exhibition soon.

Michael Hennessy, Turlough Kelly, Hugh Tulloch

Photos by Turlough Kelly

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Preview: ‘What’s the matter with you’, Michael Thomas Murphy

Entering the gallery formerly known as Kenealy’s Art Shop, one could easily think they have made a mistake. The space itself is more akin to an abondoned office complex than to a standard gallery. There is an almost post-apocalyptic feel to the place with nothing more than than a cheap looking laminated chipboard desk and an old surveillance mirror occupying the barren space.

The focal point of the exhibition is a large beige wall at the back of the room which deliberately partitions the rest of the space beyond. The exhibition space was intended to be small to give the viewer a sense of self awareness, as accentuated by the reflective surfaces and the convex mirror by the entrance. The acrylic wall is mildy amusing in its texture and how it reflects the light.

At first glance it is hard to garner any real meaning from the work. The pieces lack any finesse or elaboration, perhaps the bluntness of the exhibition is part of the artist’s apparent atempt to emphasise material and space.

The beige wall entitled “What’s the matter with you” refers to a scientific study of the shifting colours of stars, which concluded that the colour of our galaxy is predominantly beige.

Perhaps the artist plays on this colour as being a reflection of our society, with the physical reflection from the wall symbolic of this connection? The artist’s decision to cut the original space short with a wall that references our own galaxy is interesting. Some of the group members likened the reflections in the beige as being ghostly or saw the wall as being an otherworldly portal.

There were mixed reactions amoung the Red Square group to these very abstract minimalist pieces, ranging from strong feelings of frustration to bafflement and confusion. The laminated chip board desk entitled ‘I’m only romantic about materials’ caused particular frustration and springboarded a discussion about what makes art and how in the context of an exhibition are we supposed to analyse the botched desk. We questioned our expectations of art and what we expect it’s purpose to be.

While many of us feel we took nothing personal away from the exhibition and are still trying to decipher the meaning, it evoked a discussion that broadened our view of criticism.

Fionn O’Argain, Tara McNamara, Suzanne Williams

Photos by Turlough Kelly

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Brunch with the Artists

Food and art… one of the the best combinations there can be! I experienced both under the roof of Cleeres on Saturday morning, and what an excellent start to the morning it was.

I had the pleasure of going to a talk with several artists including Michael Thomas Murphy, David Beattie, Nick Miller and Liam O’Callaghan. I got an insight to the ways in which artists think.  

I was drawn in immediately by hearing the opening discussion with John Waters and Nick Miller talking about paintings where some of those present were painted nude. I got the pleasure of hearing what it is like to paint someone naked! In response, I also heard what it is like to get a portrait of yourself done while in the nip! It was an amazing insight to the working processes of an artist and the whole discussion became very thought-provoking with many questions being asked, like when does a painter stop painting? Is a painting ever truly finished or has it just stopped at a very interesting point…

The discussion continued and the audience got to hear about what materials artists use and in what ways they are developed. Artists use many different types of materials, but they reinterpret something that already exists – they find a new use for it. Along with that, I also got to hear artists’ points of view on scale. One person’s outlook on the size of, for example, the universe, can be completely different to someone else’s.

Painters, sculptors, artists…  people who try to find order in a place which is in constant disorder, striving to find that moment of truth. I got to hear about their struggle and successes with this by attending this event.

Brunch with the artists was thought- provoking and gave me an amazing insight to artists’ lives. It has given me a craving to see all of the exhibitions that are part of Kilkenny Arts Festival. I also learned that asking questions about art and artists begins the process of breaking down the barrier between art and audience.

You can see works of art throughout the city and ask questions of the artists or invigilators to get the insight I was lucky enough to receive at Brunch with the Artists.

So, must-sees in the Kilkenny Arts Festival for people of all ages are:

1. Nick Miller – situated in The Heritage Council. A multimedia piece that draws our attention to the tradition of the reclining nude in art.

2. David Beattie – situated in Monuments Room in St Mary’s Hall. David Beattie is an artist who encourages a sense of curiosity and exploration in his act of displacing quotidian objects.

3. Michael Thomas Murphy – situated in Kenealy’s Art Shop. His works are multi-dimensional and multi-layered, and incorporate many different materials.

4. Liam O’Callaghan – situated in the Muniments Room in Kilkenny Castle. O’Callaghan’s installation exposes us to the methods and mechanics of his work. And many more!


Tara McNamara

Images by Tulough Kelly (without flash!)

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Review: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari film score by Eric Sweeney and 3epkano in St. Canice’s Cathedral

Last friday night, with blue uplighting the towering Gothic vaults and red light flooding the choir behind the screen on which Cesare the somnambulist lay dormant, St. Canice’s was ready for KAF’s first film screening and live score. One of Ireland’s most significant composers and organist of Waterford’s Christ Church Cathedral, Eric Sweeney and seven piece post-rock ensemble, 3epkano collaborated to compose and partly improvise the score for The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, which is regarded as the first true horror film.

Directed by Robert Wiene in 1920, Das Kabinet der Dr. Caligari is seen as the most influential of German Expressionist films and one of the best horror films of the silent era, cited as being the first film to use the “twist ending” (which was only used because the producers thought the original ending was too macabre!).

Cesare the somnambulist

Cesare the somnambulist

The story is told through a flashback by the narrator, Francis, who describes the horror of the events that followed Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist, Cesare’s arrival at the town carnival with the characters constantly struggling with appearance and reality.

Both Sweeney and 3epkano are known for performing live silent film scores, and while their film choices overlap with the likes of Murnau’s Nosferatu, their styles differ greatly as Sweeney uses a more traditional approach with the church organ and 3epkano bring modern instrumentation and inventive percussion to the films. Sweeney’s skillful playing on the famous church organ and the full, deep sound of the ensemble had an often gigantic effect with the acoustics of the cathedral. Echoing some of the ideas from the original orchestral score (at least the version on the 1996 edition), the ensemble incorporated clattering bows and pizzicato, fluttering organ keys and a wide variety of techniques for various effects while the dynamics of the score ranged from warm and sentimental strings to thunderous drums and organ drones with some startling and tense moments. The organ and the ensemble sometimes felt separate like the organ was the classic background while the ensemble played quietly over it while at other times both elements merged and swelled.

An example of 3epkano’s previous work on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:

Having been working through “Best Silent Era Films” lists this summer, I was familiar with some similar works of the time, leaving Dr. Caligari for last since I’d seen it on the bill for the festival. I’m delighted that it turned out that the best was left for last as the film itself stands out visually for its abstract set of painted card, it’s unusually decorative intertitles and method of storytelling. Everything down to the tinted lighting of the cathedral fitting the two tones throughout the film of warm and cold enhanced the show. The score brought a modern gothic horror sound to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, updating the cinematic tension for today’s audience (a couple of jumping heads in the crowd) and I think really enhanced this iconic film. For me, this was one of the best KAF events I’ve been to yet and I’d love to see a collaboration like this again at future festivals.

Suzanne Williams

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