The Molesworth Gallery
October – November 2016
These works are a collection of paintings that span a decade engaging with themes relating to cosmology and our precarious relationship to the world and universe at large.
The works of Daily Practice began whilst on residency in Cill Rialaig in 2007 with Autumn Moon the first of an on-going series of paintings sized to the 12” record sleeve standard, depicting a brightly haloed moon that hung above an icy sea in West Kerry. I had recently returned from an extended residency at El Levante in Rosario, Argentina which took in working trips to the antique observatory at the University of Mendoza and to the internationally funded observatory and research centre at CASLEO in the Argentinian Andes. The concentrated studio time of the residency, where my bedroom doubled as my studio, created an intense space where working and living were indecipherable from the daily practice of making art.
On returning to Dublin I needed to have another aspect to my work that would sustain this energy of daily practice that was commenced in El Levante. To this date I would be known more for my installations and sculpture and the curatorial work I do with Pallas Projects. Working mainly through installations and sculpture is metronomic with intense off/on periods of work before and after shows, where more often than not work exists as ideas until it reaches the point of exhibition where it is made – the regularised steady engagement that I was looking for is not necessarily facilitated. Painting was a new venture for me, an endeavour that rewards time spent daily in the studio developing work slowly, at the considered pace of oil painting drying. Ideas are addressed in a meditative cycle, repeatedly reflecting on the reduced square plane that is my chosen image size. The works exist as repetitions of square forms that make reference to mandalas and sqared circle geometry. Ideas about our dislocation from nature and the planet we inhabit are coupled with sci-fi themes of space travel, terraforming, and alien intercession. In this manner an image bank is steadily being developed where works cross reference with each other directly or obliquely, creating semblances of views, partial constructs, multivalent narratives, position and counter position.
The enormity of the task to try and understand the world around us and how that task is performed is a recurring concern in the work. Our methods of trying to understand our condition i.e what is the world we live in and what is our relationship to it? whether through science (empirical study), philosophy (rationalism) and mysticism (introspection) are explored in relationship to each other. Scientific machines of perception, such as observatories, neutrino detectors and the CERN hadron collider are juxtaposed with the conventions of mandalas as subjective machines. Mandalas in world cultures are used as tools to aid understanding the intertwined relationships of consciousness and reality. Machines to help study consciousness are thereby resonated with machines to study the more opaque aspects of our physcial reality such as subatomic particles and dark matter. Our best analysis to date suggests that whilst we are making steady advances in our understaning of what it is that we are – we are, however, only really making observations of a miniscule portion of what it is that is out there, as the rest is dark to us*. The enormity of this task that we collectively engage in is a compelling source of inspiration for these works.
* less than 5% of the known universe is made of material we can observe with our instruments, a further 27% of dark matter is inferred through its gravitational force the remaining 68% is beyond our ken as dark energy.