Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith

  • Magali Reus

    Eagle-eyed visitors to “Hot Cottons,” Magali Reus’s first solo presentation in Scandinavia—and the London-based Dutch artist’s largest exhibition to date—will have noticed a short column of numbers, ascending in regular intervals, discreetly incised into the plastered walls at the gallery’s threshold. This ghostly calibration was echoed intermittently elsewhere, a tantalizing complement to a myriad of glyphs, graphemes, motifs, and devices that adorned the disparate surfaces of Reus’s sculptures, as if they had swarmed through the exhibition and settled at will. Those familiar with

  • picks June 11, 2015

    Lydia Ourahmane

    “Paralysis,” Lydia Ourahmane’s latest solo exhibition, deliberately invokes the theme of James Joyce’s classic short-story collection, Dubliners (1914), which obliquely charts Ireland’s closing days as a British colony. The show suggests that, a century later, a comparable miasma of stifling bureaucracy, disillusion, and yearning suffuses daily life in postcolonial Algeria. The exhibition’s showpiece is The Third Choir, 2014–15, a neo-Minimalist grid of twenty empty oil barrels from the Algerian oil company Naftal, each containing a Samsung mobile phone and functioning as sound amplifiers for

  • Leonora Carrington

    Born in England to an Irish mother, Leonora Carrington began spending significant time in Paris at the age of nineteen, finding her community among the Surrealists before escaping to Mexico during World War II, where she lived out her adult life. Now, two years after her death at age ninety-four, Carrington is given her first full-scale retrospective—a survey of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and works on paper from 1939 on. The exhibition, organized by theme rather than chronology, draws on Carrington’s writings and suggests some Irish folkloric roots for the

  • Friedrich Kuhn

    Der Malerals Outlaw” (The Painter as Outlaw), the title of the 2008–2009 exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zürich devoted to local legend Friedrich Kuhn (1926–1972), gives a fair indication of how he is remembered in the city he called home. Like that of many a larger-thanlife bad boy who drank himself into an early grave, his mythology is a catalogue of bohemian outrages—the rows with collectors or would-be benefactors, the terrorizing of upmarket restaurants, the unruly entourage—that risks overshadowing the work itself.

    Some of Kuhn’s most remarkable work, or at least that most resonant

  • David Maljković

    A few short years ago, there appeared to be substantial common ground shared by certain artists of different nationalities from the former Eastern Bloc. At least from a distance, this group, who came of age in the post-Communist 1990s, seemed to similarly deploy a mixture of film and other media to worry over the broken monuments and movements of the not-so-distant past. The Albanians Anri Sala and Adrian Paci, the Romanian Mircea Cantor, and the Lithuanian Deimantas Narkevičius spring to mind as representative of that moment. This shared ground has receded from view somewhat, perhaps inevitably,

  • passages January 14, 2013

    Hans Josephsohn (1920–2012)

    WHEN I WAS INVITED last spring to chair a roundtable discussion of the work of Hans Josephsohn at Lismore Castle Arts, in the south-east of Ireland, I had no idea it would prove to be such a resonant occasion. That the exhibition whose opening it marked would turn out to be the last in Josephsohn’s long life was unexpected, though hardly shocking. He was, after all, ninety-two years of age; still active, but not robust enough to travel, we were told by his hardworking assistants. These were the assistants, I gathered, to whom he had finally entrusted aspects of the manual facture of his works,

  • Hans Josephsohn

    Hans Josephsohn once prepared for a visit from a critic he had yet to meet by inquiring about the shape of his head—an odd request, perhaps, but one consistent with the sculptor’s lifelong dedication to the timeless task of representing the human figure in three dimensions. No doubt the pursuit put him at odds with his age and can at least partially explain why it wasn’t until a decade ago, at the age of eighty-two, that he began to receive international attention. Born into a Jewish family in East

  • Bill Bollinger

    This touring retrospective—organized by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, subsequently shown at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, as well as at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, and opening this month at SculptureCenter in New York—offered the welcome opportunity to reassess an artist whose contribution to the crucial decade between 1966 and 1976 had all but faded from view by the time of his premature death in May 1988. As with Paul Thek, who died a few months later, Bollinger’s last years were shadowed by frustrations born of a neglect that was both unfortunate

  • Paul Seawright

    Paul Seawright’s latest series of photographs, “The Missing,” 1996–97, is the first substantial body of work in which the artist has charted territory outside of the edgy, constricted milieu of his native Northern Ireland. In his previous photos Seawright examined various aspects of that particular sociopolitical terrain with an odd mixture of cold, forensic elegance and in-your-face immediacy. The “Orange Order,” 1993, and “Police Force,” 1995, series, for example, provided fascinating, if unsettling insights into the activities of two groups of men devoted to maintaining the political status

  • Patrick Ireland

    An Irish artist who has been based in the US since the mid-’50s, Patrick Ireland has frequently revisited his native shores in recent years, exhibiting his 1996 installation One Here Now: The Ogham Cycle, at the Old Yacht Club in Cobh, and a related piece in the nearby Crawford Gallery in Cork—at the far end of the island of Ireland from Derry. This mini-retrospective, a tightly marshaled presentation of selected works spanning over three decades of his output and titled “Language Performed/Matters of Identity,” consolidated his ongoing involvement with the country.

    Since the late ’60s,

  • Willie Doherty

    The trajectory of Willie Doherty’s photographic work since the early ’80s, as well as his subsequent work with slides and video, resembles that of a dissatisfied detective who repeatedly returns to the scene of an insoluble crime. Or perhaps it more closely resembles that of the perpetrator of the crime who falls prey to a similar urge. It is no coincidence that this very ambiguity lies at the heart of one of Doherty’s most powerful installations, The Only Good One is a Dead One, 1993, in which a voice-over monologue switches unnervingly between the point of view of an assassin and that of his

  • Willie Doherty

    For the first time since Willie Doherty began exhibiting in the mid-’80s, his new body of work does not refer more or less directly to the lived experience of his native Northern Ireland and the ways in which daily life (and death) there have been represented to a wider world. Even his 1999 video installation True Nature, which was produced and first shown in Chicago, interrogated the images of a romanticized homeland concocted by second- and third-generation Irish-Americans who had never visited it. But the new work, Extracts from a File, 2000, forty small-scale black-and-white photographs of

  • Isabel Nolan

    Marooned in the middle of the long, pristine white gallery was a thin, two-meter-tall archway, Portal Site, 2007, painted lime green on the inside and dark blue on the outside. Placed with evident precision close to an open staircase from which visitors emerge into the main exhibition space, but decidedly off-center, this functionless doorway led anywhere and nowhere. It notionally framed two works located at some distance at opposite ends of the room—a small floor sculpture, Is it cold out there?, 2007, and a large fabric wall hanging, Is this the end of our expectations?, 2006—on a slightly

  • Dorothy Cross

    Often working in series, Dorothy Cross has amassed a body of work since the late ’80s that ranges across a variety of media including sculpture, video, photography, installation, and musical performance. She has gradually shifted focus from a acaustic examination of gender constructions (sometimes within the specific cultural context of late-twentieth-century, post-Catholic southern Ireland) to a broader exploration of the passion and poetry within human nature, especially as released by our interaction with the rest of the natural world. This retrospective included signal sculptures from two

  • Niamh O'Malley

    Sometimes even the simplest and most familiar ideas can yield extraordinary results. “Vignette,” Niamh O’Malley’s first solo exhibition in a Dublin gallery, was based on a coalescence of the traditional concerns and effects of painting and cinema, a merging of domains that has informed much contemporary art but which was here rendered literal rather than notional. The show featured two separate works placed some distance apart on opposing walls in the large, darkened main space—DVD projections onto what, on entering the gallery, at first appeared to be blank screens. It gradually became apparent,

  • Conor Kelly

    The popularity of chaos theory may be due to the comforting implication that nature is ultimately explicable, if not exactly predictable. Conor Kelly’s mesmerizing and witty orchestration of the everyday preyed on a deep-seated anthropomorphizing urge to comprehend in human terms, and thereby to control, the animation of our natural as well as our built environment. Despite the allusion in its title to medieval church music, Plainsong, 2004, a sequence of five short videos, is an irreverent, infectious hymn to the mundane and the temporal. Designed to play singly or in combination, all five

  • David Batchelor

    The title of David Batchelor’s first major solo show at a public institution, “Shiny-Dirty,” neatly encapsulated the beat-up brilliance of his trademark stacks of reconditioned light boxes and fleets of low-slung, four-wheeled monochromes. Expanding on this title, the artist’s description of his work in a catalogue interview as “dirty readymades for shiny monochromes” signaled a conscious engagement with two of twentieth-century art’s most signif- icant forms. Batchelor’s work is informed, though by no means governed by, his writings on the theory and cultural history of color. “Chromophobia

  • Rosalind Nashashibi

    For Rosalind Nashashibi a short film lasts a little over three minutes, a long one less than twelve. Shot with a windup 16 mm Bolex camera and subsequently transferred to DVD, her films share a measured rhythm that is due less to the shifting pace of the mundane human pursuits they typically record than to a steady succession of individual shots, usually taken from a static viewpoint, of more or less twenty seconds’ duration. This rhythm appears to be partly an artifact of her preferred camera’s technical limitations (she uses three-minute reels with a maximum shot length of twenty-eight seconds)

  • Seán Shanahan

    This suite of twelve paintings was produced in response to an invitation to present a site-specific installation in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. Originally the vision of Irish picture dealer Hugh Lane, the Municipal Gallery remained a dream for many years after Lane’s early death on the ill-fated Lusitania. The gallery’s collection, the core of which is constituted by a number of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings bequeathed by Lane, was finally housed in an eighteenth-century town house in central Dublin that was built by James Caulfeild, First Earl of

  • Shane Cullen

    “We the participants in the multi-party negotiations, believe that the agreement we have negotiated offers a truly historic opportunity for a new beginning.” The optimism of this opening sentence to the 11,500-word Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, reached in 1998 after protracted negotiations between the various parties in the Northern Irish conflict, has been belied by the pact’s fraught subsequent history. For the latest in an ongoing series of monumental sculptures carrying historically resonant texts, Shane Cullen had the entirety of this text industrially etched onto fifty-five panels of