By Hilary Murray
Hugh Lane Gallery, 26th February 2009 to 17th May 2009 By Hilary Murray
We are told this exhibition deals with the examination of the disparate nature and frequency of life. This is immediately evident when we notice the eclectic quality of the artists involved. Hayley Tompkins examines the minutiae of life through a suite of delicate, subtle works that take time to examine. By contrast Mark Garry and Pádraig Timoney play by their own rules, extravagantly moulding life about them. This is not a negative factor in the exhibit. Curator Michael Dempsey adeptly taps into the multi-frequency of art today and the contrasting canonical singular resolve of the art institution. Playing on the variability and multiplicity of each artist, Dempsey shows us the intimate nature of the world and the awesomeness of its possibilities. Tomkins has created works in response to the other pieces on show and works as the antithesis to much of the later work by Garry and Timoney. Mixed media works such as Variations (2008) examine the fragmentary nature of life in the 21st Century. Shards of metal inscribe a scarification upon the piece, while remnants of forcibly removed segments remain as scabs. Tomkin’s paintings exhibit the remains of a very modern battle. Bolts serve as bullet holes on the block surfaces, each piece scrubbed over with a metallic sheen, garish in its odd placement, connotations of industrial struggle and tank warfare abound. These works speak to our continual struggle with and reliance upon materiality, the sheen of metal reminiscent of hard cash. Photos remain as ripped edges, a humanity lost to metallurgy, the ancient alchemical rub showing through. Tompkin’s sculptural works are delicate yet powerful in message. Metabuilt (2009), consists of a twig crudely adorned with tiny images of everyday life, a T.V, with rabbit ears atop perched at one end (image above). The world seems to be miniaturised. The images though attached seem flimsy and likely to fall of the tiny twig. Is Tomkins suggesting our attachment to modernity is frivolous? Is this a divining rod for technological advancement? Tomkins also shows a filmic piece Interstice 2008, (4min) which examines the sublime nature of a life viewed through the artist’s eye. Minimalist structures evanesce on screen created by what appears to shots of techno-hardware. The blinking of an artificial life made beautiful, it’s all a matter of how one sees things. A Kantian pure judgment of beauty resonates though the work. The theme of resolution through art and nature resounds within the entire installation.
Mark Garry’s This is About You (2007) details three works. A diminutive sketch in pencil of a tree, an installation made up of different coloured threads, converging and diverging at three main points upon the gallery wall and a grounded sculptural piece. The threaded work refracts light off the angles of the ceiling, bringing the environment into sharp focus. The threads acting as light seems to funnel the exterior light from the gallery window into the space, refracting off the walls. One is conscious of the space outside in relation to the interior. Moving through the piece and under the work we become incorporated into the work, implicit to the creation of art. Garry seems to ideologically diverge from Tomkins in this respect. The focus here is on the Bergsonian body. The properties of colour are acknowledged, coming together at concentrated points the threads remind us of the power of colour. At other points the threads diverge so far as to appear white against the backdrop of the gallery wall. When interacting with this piece, by moving under it to access the next gallery one is reminded of the power of nature. The rainbow creates an oscillatory effect implying a learning process within. The natural resonator that is light becoming elemental resonates well with the solidity of forms witnessed in the first two rooms. The irony of light and exuberance hitting the white wall of the gallery and becoming absorbed insinuates a wry smile on the face of the artist in relation to the white cube. The enlarged origami swan sculpture is anachronistic in its solid portrayal of the ephemeral.
A multitude of disparate works by Pádraig Timoney fill two rooms within the exhibit. Deliberately varied, mingling painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media works, Timoney creates the ideal guerrilla artist statement â€“ as much as one can in the confines of the gallery. Please Touch (2007), a work made of peuter and aluminium displaying a clenched golden fist pushing into the gallery space. Above the fist, ‘Please Touch’ sheens in etched metal letters. One doesn’t know whether to take him at his word and touch the clenched fist or to defer to gallery practice and ignore. The material here is unavoidable and the uncanny hand does make one shrink from being near it in fear of it actually grasping for you. The illusionistic lettering confuses and illustrates the uncertainty of aesthetic judgement alone. Is the link between the eye and the brain to be trusted? In this respect the judgment of art is being examined in each of the artist’s work. Timoney has many untitled pieces throughout described only through the referencing of material. This illustrates the metanarrative of the exhibit. Like Garry, Timoney references the frequencies of nature and how they can be altered upon dissemination. A painting split in two, one side depicting a ship, the other a confused referencing of the ship, where the paint appears to have been allowed run around the canvas, the controlled hand of the artist has given way to the rule of material. My favourite piece of Timoney’s work is a pottery bird anchored by the heavy weight of a part-munched, giant gob-stopper. This piece, hilarious in its absurdity, forebodes a loss of innocence. For Timoney I feel art is a constant investigation, a play that should not be made formulaic and as such his works feel uneasy within the gallery space.
I found myself eager to see more of Mark Garry’s work and the final room did not disappoint. Two sculptural works make up Logic and its Associates (2009). The first being two componiums affixed to the handles of what looks like an antiquated hardwood treadmill. We are told each music box affixed to what look like the handles of the treadmill represent the head and the heart. The cut-out dots that move through the mechanism creating the music as the cog turns follows a pattern associated with wave readings taken from the brain and the heart. Thus both machines produce concurrent heart and brain rhythms, and actually when played in tandem the music created is quite harmonious. The monumental importance of the body-as-whole is referenced. One imagines the componiums ticking away as we frantically walk, though the thread of paper running through them is already well used, hole-punched into near oblivion. The second piece is Calderesque in its mobile simplicity, though this piece is stationary, affixed to the wall and reminiscent of a sun-dial. Light once again is referenced in Garry’s work. We are told this piece represents a leaf, the notion of a scientific sensibility within nature is implied. The Naturalist ideal is implicit; ‘all basic truths are truths of nature’. Of course Naturalism also proposes that methods of science should be used in philosophy, the artist appears to suggest we embrace the scientific manner of nature. One leaves the exhibit hopeful of what nature holds and the possibilities imbued within it. Our evolution through the elemental resounds within the viewer and we feel refreshed through the experience of coming through the exhibition. The show questions the forces of acoustics, oscillations and the frequencies that permeate our everyday existence. We are reminded that life would be impossible without the resonating hum of frequencies that make up our world. The artists here demonstrate that to remain in harmony with the frequency of nature is ultimately a matter of survival.