St. Patrick’s Day typically means pub crawls and streets filled with green party beads, hats, sunglasses, beer—even green bagels. This year, we look beyond the festivities (and the color green) to appreciate some of the young artistic talent coming out of the Emerald Isle. Ireland has been birthplace to numerous great artists throughout the ages. Francis Bacon, for example, was born in Dublin (of British descent) and spent most of his childhood in Ireland before becoming a figure in British art. Also a Dublin native, Sean Scully grew up in England before immigrating to the U.S. in the ’70s and has twice been nominated for the Turner Prize. Dublin’s own flourishing contemporary arts scene supports a new generation of artists, populated by galleries such as Ellis King, Kerlin Gallery, and Kevin Kavanagh, plus Nicholas Gallery holding things down to the north in Belfast. Read up on five Irish artists you need to know now.
Genieve Figgis’s haunting paintings capture a past era through sumptuous, caricatured scenes where colors melt together and faces drip into ghoulish masks. Figgis made her New York debut last fall with a solo show, “Good Morning, Midnight” at Half Gallery, preceded by a summer solo show at Harper’s Books in East Hampton, which coincided with the release of her first book (published by Fulton Ryder). Figgis holds BA and MFA degrees from The National College of Art & Design in Dublin and is certainly one to watch as 2015 unfolds.
Representing Ireland this year at the Venice Biennale, Sean Lynch draws from his experience as a student of both fine art and art history. His various projects invoke photography, installation, sculpture, and publications as devices for exploring the past. For his Biennale presentation, “Adventure: Capital,” Lynch has assembled a study of “capital” and its value through objects gathered in and around Ireland and England. Soon after the Biennale officially kicks off on May 9th, Ronchini Gallery will open a solo show of Lynch’s project DeLorean Progress Report (2009-11), which was first shown at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in 2010.
Photographs by Richard Mosse—the name on seemingly everyone’s lips last year—have been seen everywhere since they filled the Venice Biennale’s Irish Pavilion in 2013. Mosse’s distinctive images are shot on false-color reversal, infrared film that transforms the scenery of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo into a technicolor dystopia. Last spring Mosse was celebrated in solo shows at Edel Assanti and The Photographers’ Gallery in London, featuring his well-known series “The Enclave.” The latter show coincided with the announcement that he had won the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Mosse’s work was also included in a group exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art last year.
Based in Dublin, Ciarán Murphy composes abstract elegies in oil paint, at times incorporating vaguely figurative or geometric elements into his faded scenes. Murphy has been showing since he graduated from the National College of Art & Design in 2003, most recently in “A Particular Nothing” at GRIMM this winter, and “A Round Now,” at Taymour Grahne in December 2013.
Also hailing from Dublin, Eoin Mc Hugh works out of Berlin creating a range of mixed media works that probe the psychological underpinnings of images; Mc Hugh’s latest body of work includes sculptural pieces constructed of sheepskin, steel, wax, and bronze among other elements, along with retooled Persian and Turkish carpets. The series was presented last fall in a solo show at Kerlin Gallery, one piece from which was recently seen in Kerlin Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show.