Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Perceptions of art

Fascinating exhibitions at Old Museum Arts centre

There's plenty of time to see the latest exhibition, or rather exhibitions, in the Old Museum Arts Centre since they continue until December 1.

The show in the main gallery features recent works by Benjamin de Burca who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1999. He is currently the co-director of Catalyst Arts and is represented by the Square Space gallery.

This latest body of his work deals with "perceptions relating to the painted surface and raises questions about authorship and originality". Basically, de Burca's approach is to collect reproductions of famous paintings and then deface them almost completely before cutting them up so that he can re-form them into a quite different, although still related, image.

The exhibition is meant to tell a sort of story, with each piece acting as the starting point for the next. As well as this being a visual and conceptual process it is also physical, with leftover cuttings from one image forming the groundwork for the next.

Actually I surprised myself by liking quite a number of the pieces, particularly the small, boxed works, which have some interesting 3-D effects in the multiplicity of their layers.

The larger work, his 'rehash' (his word not mine) of Constable's Haywain, entitled The Wayhain, is complex and interesting although the silvery blues are a bit too kitsch for my liking and the kinetic effect walking past is less pronounced.

The show in the other gallery across the hall caught my imagination more but in a melancholic kind of way. The artists are a number of physically or mentally disadvantaged people, all of whom were asked to produce a print that said something about health.

This project, which enabled those taking part to learn some of the skills of printmaking, was run in collaboration with Seacourt Print Workshop, in Bangor.

The group's first reaction was apparently bewilderment, but after talking about the possibilities - life, death, illness, mind, body, spirit, quality of life etc - they reportedly became really enthusiastic and came up with some wonderful images full of hidden meaning.

Each work is accompanied by a 'health story' from each artist and they make fascinating reading, helping to give insight into the images and their possible meanings. A lovely little show.



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