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Caoimhe Kilfeather

5-9 Temple Bar
June 20, 2014–August 20, 2014

View of “Caoimhe Kilfeather,” 2014.

Oiled, pigmented paper in shades of blue hangs in loose panels from a metal frame, screening the gallery from the bustle of the cobbled streets outside. The gallery is located in Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, an area thronged with visitors. Instead of competing with the bustle to capture attention, Caoimhe Kilfeather has constructed a calm, quiet enclosure in which lambent light pacifies the senses.

Within this renewed atmosphere are sculptural objects. The Kind Thought That Sent Them There (all works 2014) is a small drop-leaf table, with one leaf hanging down, on which sit four blackened cast-bronze balls, each with a small slot revealing a hollow interior. One leg of the table is supported by a small wedge, drawing attention to a deliberate imperfection. Diagonally opposite, A Shade takes the form of a dark concrete monolith, banded horizontally at its center by a slim brass thread. Both sculptures serve to inflect one’s sense of presence.

Two framed black-and-white photographs, At the End of His Nature I and II, provide the clearest guide to Kilfeather’s intentions. Each shows the view from a room shaded by foliage across a paved courtyard to a doorway beyond. In one image, the glass doors are open; in the other, closed. Kilfeather is utterly sensitive to the nuances of placement in an installation that gently insists on attention, a slower pace, and a greater appreciation for the resonance of objects and of being in space.

Gemma Tipton

Eva Rothschild

Charlemont House, Parnell Square North
May 23, 2014–September 21, 2014

View of “Eva Rothschild,” 2014.

Playful and subversive, yet completely assured in execution, Eva Rothschild’s series of installations at the Hugh Lane Gallery hint at a retelling of the history of sculpture. Klassix, 2013, has the appearance of a Doric column, topped with a hunk of rock. And yet it is black, and the broken segments of a fellow column lying at the base are revealed to have cores of red and green, like giant licorice candies. In Hometeam, 2014, huge Olympic rings—or could they be basketball hoops?—seem to hang in space. Look closer to discover they are supported on steel struts, hidden by long leather strips.

Starting out from the primarily male-dominated tradition of monumental Minimalism from the 1960s and ’70s, Rothschild adds wit, color, and works with a variety of materials—leather, steel, Jesmonite, wood, resin, and ceramic—to disrupt that tradition. In Do-nut (Wakefield), 2011, a large circular ring is segmented and rendered Gaudiesque with sleekly glittering ceramic mosaics in black and red. The formality of the piece is broken and undermined.

As demonstrated by her 2009 Duveens commission for Tate Britain—in which she set a single sculpture to snake through the 230-foot-long space—Rothschild is keenly aware of sculpture’s power to alter our sense of space. In her current exhibition, that awareness is echoed on a smaller scale in Lantern (Dublin), 2014, a winding colored line made from aluminum lengths linked with small steel rings, which forms a boundary within one of the gallery’s rooms that corrals the sculptures inside it. Across town, as part of the “Vestibule” project in Merrion Square, Rothschild’s Someone and Someone, 2008, is a ludic, brightly colored arch, inviting movement, interaction, contemplation: all the good things.

Gemma Tipton

Mark Clare

Emmet Place
September 13–November 1

Mark Clare, For All Mankind, 2011, photographic light stands, kitchen timers, tin-foil, nuts and bolts, dimensions variable.

Concerned with the forces and systems that shape and observe us, Mark Clare’s practice easily seems to span disparate elements, but with good curation, it yields a satisfying thesis. Remote Control Technologies, 2011 is a large blue box on wheels housing a video screen, a reconstruction of a 1950s–era portable air-traffic control tower used in the Korean War. Nearby, Ping Pong Diplomacy, 2008—a wooden Ping-Pong table with paddles—refers to a Time magazine–heralded breakthrough in US-China relations in 1971, when the Chinese government issued invitations to US table-tennis players, thawing the longstanding chill between the two nations.

Among Clare’s works that draw attention to the creative strategies enabling and driving global relations, a standout is For All Mankind, 2011, a forest of rotating satellite-style dishes. Incorporating ticking kitchen timers, the work alludes to surveillance and knowledge gathering on Earth and beyond. Upstairs, the emphasis shifts to our relationship with the natural world. MonoCulture, 2014, is a network of brass pipes joining at an empty beehive, as if to highlight the often detrimental impact of our created systems on the environment.

Threaded through are references to the role artists have played in political and social history. The video The World Could Wait No Longer, 2010, restages a 1980s manifesto issued by the Orange Alternative, a Polish underground protest group. “The only solution for the future and for the present day is in Surrealism,” announces the speaker, a position particularly resonant in our current age, as geopolitics engenders and normalizes the most unexpected juxtapositions and alliances.

Gemma Tipton

Marilyn Lerner

Kilkenny Castle
August 9, 2014–October 5, 2014

Marilyn Lerner, Eight Ovals, 2011, oil on wood, 22 x 30".

For anyone who’s been harboring a sneaking suspicion that hard-edged geometric abstraction might be a little—how to put this?—passé, Marilyn Lerner demonstrates its enduring energy: She mines the full potential of this genre of painting with a series of explorations into color, form, and spatial harmonics.

The exhibition is cleverly developed. Beginning with the relative restraint of Pink Center for S.M., 2012, a painting depicting a series of concentric circles, the show gathers energy through the galleries to break out into the full-on psychedelic exuberance of Eight Ovals, 2011, by the final room. There, the titular shapes seem to dance, connected by wavy lines, orbiting a colorful central grid like wild planets, held with a surety of perfect placement in a moment between stasis and frenetic energy.

Lerner’s interest in music, non-Western cultures, and spiritualism is evident in the work, and the spirit of Hilma af Klint hovers over everything. So too does the legacy of Josef Albers. Maze, 2013, is perhaps the most Albers-like of the works, deploying nested rectangles, while Door, 2010, could be Albers on acid: There are frame-like regions of color at its core, but over this, Lerner has lain a riotous array of circles, each exploring Albers’s own theses on how color shifts perception. The New York–based Lerner has been exhibiting since the 1960s, and while she’s continued to make bold geometric abstractions, her latest work is nonetheless utterly fresh and thrilling.

Gemma Tipton