Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Eclectic exhibition

A new show is a good snapshot of Irish art today

Last week saw the opening of a major autumn exhibition at Gormleys Fine Art, at 251 Lisburn Road, Belfast.



Entitled Living with Art 2, Oliver Gormley describes it as an "eclectic mix of works which illustrates the extent and variety of work currently being produced in Ireland and the depth and creativity of our rich and vibrant culture", and I would be inclined to agree with him.



Not only has the gallery got a great selection of pictures on the walls, by both familiar and new artists but it is also good to see an impressive number of 3D pieces and, as always at Gormleys, there is a beautifully presented and illustrated catalogue with biographical details and statements for each artist.



The list of painters is impressive, from the iconic imagery of Jonathan Aiken to the kinetic, illusionary works of Peter Monaghan or the classic landscapes of Eileen Meagher. There are super-real still-life images by Raymond Campbell, stylised, almond-eyed people by Graham Knuttel, crusty, heavy impasto from Paul Walls and emotive, textural landscapes by James May.



Younger, less well-known artists include Lorcan Vallely who only qualified in 2004 and lives and works in Belfast. He favours charcoal on canvas and finds many of his subjects in the city's past.



Another relative newcomer is Jennifer Trouton who, although she qualified in 1996, has had two separate residencies, one in Canada and one in America. Working from a combination of photographs and family artefacts her realistic approach "endevours to give form and substance to trivial curios and the seemingly innocuous".



Instantly recognizable artists include Gladys Maccabe, Ross Wilson, Joe Hynes, Rita Duffy and Colin Watson.



Young sculptor Emer Byrne qualified in 1999 and has an interesting approach to the subject matter which, she says, "tends to reflect whatever I am surrounded by at a particular time". Recently that has included a Headpiece, and a Clutch Bag, both cast in bronze.



Siobhan Bulfin, although already competent in two dimensions, has recently turned to sculpting horses, which hold a particular fascination for her. Her bronze pieces are full of life and movement and reflect a real empathy for her subject.



The best-known sculptor in the exhibition is, of course, John Behan with his wonderfully romantic, mythological boats, long limbed figures and chunky animals.



Overall, it's a very interesting show with sufficient variety and breadth to give a reasonable overall picture of some of the things happening in Irish art today.





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