For Gibbons & Nicholas this is the second outing to Context Art Miami, following a very successful showing last year when the event attracted 82,500 visitors. The line-up of artists travelling to Miami is very strong this year, featuring Peter Burns, Eamon Colman, Anita Groener, Ronnie Hughes and Helen O’Leary. These five complementary and very individual artists will project a powerful Irish presence at the fair.
Peter Burns lives and works in County Mayo, on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, but shows his work internationally. A graduate of the National College of Art and Design Dublin (NCAD), Peter’s paintings can be playful re-workings of myths, Biblical stories, art historical, literary and musical themes. People are shown in relation to nature and the universe. Small figures and animals exist and roam freely in his imaginative, painted world. Chunks of old dried paint are attached to the canvas in places, while elsewhere paint is scraped off to reveal underlying layers. Exoticism flavours Peter’s ambitious range of subject matter, with allusions to faraway places, Japanese art and Russian literature. The sky, the stars and the planets suggest a sense of infinity. Colourful and playful, his paintings are daring and experimental, each one focusing on a self-contained world. Peter’s work featured at an exhibition last May at David & Schweitzer Contemporary in New York.
Eamon Coleman’s career spans from 1979 and he has created thirty-six solo exhibitions, both in Ireland and internationally. According to Eamon the act of walking and travelling holds the key to much of his work. He has found the moods of various landscapes through its indigenous people — whether on the Skagen coast of Denmark, his walk from New Delhi to the source of the River Ganges or a journey he took along the Colorado River, spent white-water rafting, camping and walking. Now a resident of County Kilkenny in the south-east of Ireland, he lives 900 feet up a hill, surrounded by forests. Recent work on paper was inspired by Hollywood, not in California, but the village in the mountains of County Wicklow. His ecologically minded approach to his surroundings was reflected in these images, which highlighted the inherent beauty of these gentle uplands, while being fully aware of the vulnerability of their flora and fauna though mono-coniferous afforestation. Eamon Coleman was elected a member of Aosdána in 2007, in recognition of his major contribution to Irish culture.
Anita Groener was born in the Netherlands but has lived in Ireland since 1982. Her work, like her life, is grounded in a transcultural perspective. Notions of home and displacement within modern geopolitical realities drive the work, directed through drawing. Groener makes paintings, site-specific drawings, films and animation that she exhibits nationally and internationally. In 2005, like fellow Miami participant Eamon Coleman, she was elected a member of Aosdána, the Irish affiliation that recognises outstanding contributions to Irish culture. She taught until 2014 at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) where she also served as the Head of Fine Art from 2004 to 2006. In 2015 she was selected by Facebook San Francisco to participate in the Facebook AIR (Artist In Residence) Programme undertaking and completing a commission on site within the company’s European Headquarters in Dublin.
Major exhibitions of her work have taken place in Ireland; Florence, Italy; New York, USA; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and Paris, France. Groener’s work is included in important private and corporate collections around the world.
Born in Belfast in 1965 and now living in County Sligo, Ronnie Hughes studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast, receiving an MA in Fine Art in 1989. Hughes has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout Ireland and has participated in many group exhibitions worldwide. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Zygotic Tendencies’ presented at Chicago Art Fair and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles. ‘Strange Attractors’, a large survey show of his recent work, took place in 2017 at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) Dublin. Irish Times art writer Gemma Tipton described this show as ‘op art extravaganzas that make your eyes ache; bursts of geometric shapes that seem to warp the flat surfaces of the paper and canvas into pinnacles and troughs; and grids of line and colour to take your senses for a walk through a series of endless mazes’. Hughes’s work has been written about extensively and he has received a multitude of awards, including a one-year residency in New York (PS1, 1990-91) and three-month residencies at Banff Arts Centre, Canada (1994) and Bemis Arts Canter, Nebraska (1997). In 2006 he was awarded both the ‘Irish Artist Fellowship’ – a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center and a two-month residency at the Albers Foundation in Connecticut.
Born in County Wexford in 1961, Helen O'Leary's work in painting and sculpture draws on her Irish background and explores with deftness, rigour and craft, the idea of origin – of how everything we subsequently become has been framed by the visual, cultural, moral and emotional lines of definition that are drawn around our formative childhood worlds.
Helen is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Dublin, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Madison, Maine. She is currently a Professor of Art at Penn State University.
She has exhibited widely around the world, including two Important Irish galleries – the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, and the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin. Her work has also featured at the Coleman Burke Gallery in New York, the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia, Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, Stad and Zee Museum, Belgium, Glasgow Museum of Art, Scotland, the Beverly Art Center in Chicago and the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi, India.
Her art has been honoured with two Pollock-Krasner awards and a Joan Mitchell Award for painting and sculpture. In 2010 Helen was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2016 she completed a MacDowell residency and she recently completed a Golden Foundation residency, where she created much of the work being exhibited at Context Art Miami.
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