High grade art from this year’s graduate crop
Inventive, ambitious, engaged and curious, art students from various colleges have produced work as diverse as it is excellent
Less predictably, this year there is a resurgence of interest in optical phenomena, almost a return to op art. Rather than reflecting an infatuation with new technology, this has to do with an interest in the mechanics of perception, and it plays out in lively and inventive ways: in the work of Colm Eccles at IADT and of Helen MacMahon and Mark Reynolds, both at DIT, for example.
Comparably, there’s an interest in materials, and in materials not being what they seem. Sarah Doherty’s sculptures, sede vacante, at DIT are a particularly good example: she is acutely attentive to the historical and cultural meanings of the forms and illusions she creates. Marilyn Gaffney’s collages, in two and three dimensions, at Moxie Studios, are also very impressive.
It’s encouraging to see young artists asking us to question the basics of looking and seeing rather than being carried away on the tidal wave of image production that has swept through contemporary culture.
Photography at both DIT and IADT has been reliably strong in recent years, and that remains broadly true, even if there’s a slight dip at IADT, with several underwhelming projects – though Lisa Burke, Heber Hanly, Karena Hutton, John Jordan and work already mentioned maintain the standard.
Certainly at DIT there are a number of terrific projects. As well as those referred to, Maciej Pastka’s documentation of a marginal urban community in north Poland is memorable, as are Neil Dorgan’s War Games, Kasia Kaminska’s exploration of the Gaeltacht civil-rights movement that sprang up in Connemara in the late 1960s, Patricia Klich, Treasa O’Hanlon’s Lolita and Irene Siragusa’s look at nighttime violence in Dublin.
It’s hardly surprising that the most accomplished exhibition overall is NCAD’s master-of-fine-arts show at Moxie Studios. If you’re going to see just one graduate show, make it this one. Highlights include Christine Lanney’s hypnotic performance videos, Gwen Wilkinson’s images of evanescence, Hannah Moore’s tent installation, printmakers Niall Naessens and Lilian Ingram, and Jane Giffney’s intricate works with human hair.
At Moxie you’ll also find a number of very good painters making up something close to a movement or school, a notional grouping that would include such more established figures as Paul Doran, Mark Swords and Fergus Feehily. They don’t all make the same kind of work, but what comes across is a sympathy in outlook and attitude. At Moxie are Eveleen Murphy, Natasha Conway and George Warren, and one could add two impressive BAs to that list, Andrew Simpson and Daniel Jackman.
Add Diarmaid O’Sullivan and Susan O’Leary at CIT as convincing painters and it might seem perverse to suggest there is a crisis in painting.
The crisis is that painting appears be used as a default option by students and staff who are not fundamentally engaged with it and don’t ask the most obvious questions about ability and intention.