Belfast Telegraph

Strange, complex and utterly compelling

By Liz Baird

F.E. McWilliam Gallery, 200 Newry Road, Banbridge, Until Sunday, September 11, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun, 1-5pm

The F.E. McWilliam Gallery is a particularly appropriate venue for this exhibition as he was the only Irish artist to be directly connected with the |surrealist movement in Ireland and, although he wasn’t an official member of the British Surrealist movement he exhibited with them throughout the 1930s.

This exhibition, the first of its type, explores both the influence and the legacy of the movement upon Irish art and presents the work of over 20 Irish artists.

Some were pupils of surrealism, like Colin Middleton and Neville Johnston, while others, like Gerard Dillon, Dermot Seymour and Dorothy Cross have been inspired by the surrealist vision and still others, like Catherine McWilliams, Alice Maher and Fiona Finnegan, have found certain affinities with the movement.

Surrealism as a movement was short-lived, beginning in the 1920s and ending, arguably, in the 1930s, |although clearly its influence lives on today.

This enduring quality is expressed by a number of the most recent works in the exhibition, with artists like Rita Duffy and Zoe Murdoch creating imaginative work that explores many of the same psychological and aesthetic themes.

This is a fascinating exhibition, one which needs a little time to digest and discover the true meanings of many of the strange, complex and imaginative pieces of work, including (clockwise, from top left) ‘Jack Russell & Rembrandt’s Elephant’ by Elizabeth Taggart, ‘Palisade’ by Alice Maher, Gerard Dillon’s ‘Clowns on a Bog’ and ‘The Knife’ by Zoe Murdoch.

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