The best art shows to see this week

 

Variations on a garden Abbas Akhavan, Gallery 1, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin. October 27th-January 13th – douglashydegallery.com

In his installations, videos, sculptures and other works, Iranian-born Abbas Akhavan (his family moved to Canada during the Iran-Iraq war, when he was a child) presents domestic spaces inside and out, balanced between hospitality and hostility, as microcosms and reflections of the wider world of international relations and tensions. The aggressive looking, human-sized bronze plant forms in “study for a monument” are greatly enlarged examples of species native to the area in Iraq where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are presumed to have been sited. It’s also the region ravaged during Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the Marsh Arabs in the 1990s. AD

  If Not You Mark Clare, Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Co Cork. Until December 6th – siriusartscentre.ie

In his new installation works, Mark Clare marshals stories of unseen natural processes that “are essential for the ecological equilibrium of our environment”. There is, for example, the desiccated ancient algal dust scooped up from the Sahara and borne at altitude to the Amazon basin, where it acts as a vital, regenerative nutrient. But, Clare suggests, the fine-tuned factors that enable this global rebalancing act are being altered by the rise in average temperatures year on year, with unknown though potentially dire consequences. The responsibility, he implies, is ours. AD

The Otherworld Hall Aoibheann Greenan, Seán Hillen, Seán Lynch, Lucy McKenna, Tadhg McSweeney, Doireann Ní Ghrioghair, Nano Reid. Solstice Arts Centre, Railway St, Navan, Co Meath. Until December 22 – solsticeartscentre.ie

Apart from its historical interest, is there a possibility that the archaeological riches of the Boyne Valley might “illuminate and even confirm the truth of some aspects of Irish mythology?” Artist Sabina Mac Mahon curates a group show exploring the “intriguing convergence of history, archaeology and myth that is present in the Boyne Valley’s megalithic tombs”. The project was inspired by the example of the great Louth artist Nano Reid (1900-1981), many of whose paintings are steeped in the lore of the area, including her 1963 work Where Oengus Óg Magnificently Dwells. There’s an opening talk by Manchán Magan and Mac Mahon will do an informal tour of the show at 2pm, on December 2nd. AD  

ART

RDS Visual Art Awards RDS Concert Hall, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Until October 30 – rds.ie/visualart

One of this year’s shortlisted artists, Elaine Hoey, won last year’s RDS Taylor Art Award for an exceptional piece of interactive, virtual reality work. She’s back with another virtual world – four, in fact. In Stranger than Fiction is Fact, the visitor can navigate four different narratives, all with an unsettling subtext. Also featured are Eve O’Callaghan’s assured abstract paintings, Yasmine Robinson’s investigation of the historical urban fabric in Belfast, Kevin Smith’s film on masculinity, Kevin O’Kelly’s installation on urban isolation, plus work by Isabel English, Ann Ensor, Hannah Clegg, Ara Devine, Monica Bogyos, Yvonne Casburn and Matthew Bouree. This year’s curator is painter Nick Miller. There’s a total prize fund of €27,000. AD

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