Art in Focus: Portrait by Aches

The visual information in these pixilated images are compressed to the point of abstraction

What is it?
A painting by graffiti writer, muralist and "post-street" artist Aches.

How was it done?
Aches' pixilated portraits stem from the technology of digital communications, rendering likenesses in terms of RGB colour-coded grids. A graffiti writer and muralist of considerable experience, Aches's use of overlays led him to explore colour theory and he has played inventively, and critically, with the structure, nature and glitches of digital images.

His larger-than-life scaled grids, painted outdoors and photographed on a smartphone, would resolve into a coherent portrait image. But when he came to making easel-sized pixel images, he represented the grids in close-up, and the visual information is compressed to the point of abstraction.

Where can I see it?
Aches' work is included in VUE, the national contemporary art fair, under the Atelier Maser flag, at the RHA, 15 Ely Place, Dublin ( November 7th–10th, vueartfair.ie). With more than 20 participating galleries and organisations, the fair presents an exceptional opportunity to sample the range of contemporary Irish art activity in one Dublin city centre venue.

Participants include the Oliver Sears Gallery, Gormley’s Fine Art, the Molesworth Gallery, Solomon Fine Art, Taylor Galleries, Olivier Cornet Gallery, Green on Red Gallery, Jorgensen Gallery, the Doorway Gallery, Peppercanister Gallery, Sol Art Gallery, Gallery X, Gibbons & Nicholas and RS Sculpture.

It’s worth noting that pretty much every fine art print studio and gallery in the country is there: The Graphic Studio Gallery, SO Fine Art Editions, the Black Church, Stoney Road Press, Cork Printmakers and Parallel Editions. Olivier Cornet usually puts together a thematic show for VUE and this year is no exception, the title being Drawing on Don Quixote.

Is it a typical work by the artist?
Slightly untypical in that the artist's main habitat is still the streets. Aches collaborated with Maser for the revised version 2 of the well-known text mural, U ARE ALIVE* (*so get your head out of your phone), giving the block letters his characteristic optical shimmer. Following that he was the first artist-in-residence at Atelier Maser quite nearby.

Atelier Maser, delivered as part of the Charlemont St Regeneration Project, is a dual gallery-studio space initiated by the renowned Al Maser. It’s also a kind of halfway house, bridging the gap between street and gallery for those often dismissively termed graffiti or street artists.

Aches’ best-known work is surely his Savita Halappanavar mural at The Bernard Shaw in Portobello made just ahead of the Eight Amendment vote in May 2018. The portrait incorporated the word Yes and, to his surprise, it became an overnight shrine, attracting numerous visitors with flowers and cards.

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