First of all, in answer to my query of last week I was pleased to learn that far from abandoning the visual arts, the Old Museum Arts Centre has great plans for it in the new arts centre that’s being built in the centre of Belfast.
The next exhibition will be an informative one about the OMAC, so any lack of visual art is definitely only temporary.
Around the corner in the Waterfront Hall, there’s a new body of work on show from Joe Boyle, a Northern Irish artist who, as far as I know, hasn’t had a one-person show for quite some time. A Royal Ulster Academy Conor prize winner, from a number of years back, Joe was a very promising up and coming young artist. A demanding professional and family life, including a PhD in the philosophy of art, took priority for some time and it is only now that Joe can give himself back to painting.
At first glance his work would appear to revolve around representation using distinctive, very definite brushstrokes and clever colour separation and mixing. But this approach belies a deeply philosophical concern with what he describes as the “relationship between ‘free’ and ‘dependent’ beauty the framework of my pursuit of emotionally and intellectually expressive painting”. He constantly tries to “evoke a sense of place, or emotion in the relationship between representation and abstraction”.
Full of wonderful colour, atmosphere and movement, the results are just what he is aiming for, works which, “excite and ignite the canvas” while at the same time being “accessible and pleasurable to the spectators”.
Moving on now, the latest exhibition in The Engine Room, Out Of The Shadows Into The Sun is a collection of new works by Margaret Arthur.
These pieces, in mixed media, are a complex amalgamation of print, delicate papers, collage and multi-layering of images to create vivid yet delicate forms with depth and luminosity.
Inspired by a residency in California, the vivid colours reflect the weather while the subjects deal with deeper issues — healing after conflict, ancestral memory, forgiveness and “aspects of the need for healing and reconciliation in us all”.
Recovering as she was at the time from surgery, Margaret says: “I began using the wound as a metaphor in a personal way, but this quickly extended to include the scars on the landscape.”
The exhibition is bright, vivid, exciting and stimulating. From its wonderful sunbursts to its transparent forms and images of regeneration, it is inspirational and uplifting.
Both exhibitions run until the end of the month.