Declan Long

  • Dorothy Cross

    Three solemn sculptures made from carved marble and, in one case, collected stones, made three weighty statements on the fragility of earthly existence. This sternly minimal exhibition by Dorothy Cross—titled, with alliterative delicacy, “I dreamt I dwelt”was a potent distillation of the Irish artist’s long-standing themes and recurring tropes and a powerfully mournful meditation on the dividing lines between human and animal, land and sea, life and death. Cross has been dreaming and dwelling along these boundaries since the 1980s, imagining, through the refined grotesquerie of her multifaceted


    TOWARD THE END OF HIS LIFE—with little time and energy left—Derek Jarman returned to painting in a spirit of vigorous, vehement urgency. Cinema had long been the celebrated center of Jarman’s art. From the mid-1970s to the early ’90s, he was, arguably, Britain’s most venturesome big-screen poet: a cultivated, risk-taking pioneer of punk and queer film. But painting had also been important to Jarman since he was a student at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in the ’60s, fitfully recurring as an artistic compulsion in conjunction with the collaborative pressures of filmmaking and the

  • Jessie Homer French

    Fires burn, fish swim, people die: Again and again, the art of Jessie Homer French returns to elemental facts of earthly existence. Mostly, her bittersweet, anti-pastoral paintings depict—and artfully distort—scenes of everyday life and death, culture and nature, in the landscapes close to her home in the hilly outskirts of La Quinta, California. Born in New York in 1940, Homer French has been a Golden State resident for much of the past four decades. During this time, she has cultivated a delicately cartoonish, self-taught painting style that responds to the bracing proximity of wilderness—the

  • Stephen McKenna

    A Painter’s Life: Stephen McKenna (1939–2017)” is an illuminating posthumous tribute to an enlightened, enthusiastic internationalist, a restlessly cosmopolitan painter whose art was often characterized by restful, rational, neoclassical composure. Stephen McKenna was born in England—to a Northern Irish father and a Scottish mother—but the family spent considerable time abroad: living, variously, in Norway, Hong Kong, and Austria. After studying painting at London’s Slade School of Fine Art in the 1960s—which led him to experiment, for a while, with abstraction—he moved to Germany, where he

  • Phil Collins

    Phil Collins is an uncommonly committed world traveler, a global citizen with a gift for making strong, surprising connections wherever he goes. His films offer jubilantly perverse perspectives on life in diverse locations, with people bonding, performing for each other, telling their stories, or indulging in their obsessions. At times, the works’ sly artifice and searing candor could bring the brazen spectacle of reality TV to mind—if the creators of such spectacles actually cared about their short-term stars.Aptly, Collins’s project for the 2006 Turner Prize exhibition, the return of the

  • Katrina Palmer

    There isn’t always much to see in a Katrina Palmer installation, but there can be a lot to take in. Her artworks require attentive listening, patient reading, and a readiness to quickly and imaginatively cast one’s mind to another place and time. Though she studied sculpture at Central Saint Martin’s in London, her principal artistic medium is language: Writing, in a variety of voices, features prominently in her exhibitions, where it takes the form of wall texts, scripted soundtracks, or elliptical stories published in idiosyncratic artist’s books.

    So, for instance, in “The three stories are

  • Eithne Jordan

    Since abandoning the energetic, expressionist style that characterized her early work—cultivated while studying in the mid-1980s in Berlin at what was then the Hochschule der Künste—the Irish painter Eithne Jordan has prioritized contemplative stillness and calculated understatement. Over the past twenty or so years, she has worked in a coolly reserved realist mode, generally focusing her inquisitive gaze on workaday city spaces and nondescript industrial hinterlands. Many of her best paintings catch moments of fleeting calm within the routine commotion of urban experience: waiting

  • Duncan Campbell

    Duncan Campbell’s breakthrough film, the remarkable mini-documentary Bernadette, 2008, is an inventively intimate portrait of a public figure. Focusing on the life of left-wing activist and politician Bernadette Devlin—a magnetic, motivating presence in the Northern Irish civil rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s—Campbell constructed an unorthodox, and perversely intrusive, style of filmic biography. Principally assembled from fragments of news footage, Bernadette shows its young protagonist (born in 1947) rallying crowds and railing against authority with astonishing,

  • Phillip Allen

    Until about five years ago, Phillip Allen’s paintings had two distinct—and dramatically contrasting—characteristics. One was an energetically inventive, frequently cartoonish style of colorful drawing. In each of his ebullient oil-on-board works he would essay illusionistic depictions of strange spaces, shapes, or structures—envisioning fanciful 3-D forms within the flat confines of a painting’s surface. The other hallmark of Allen’s art, however, was a preoccupation with the actual three-dimensional properties of paint: an interest declared in his prodigal application of heavy,

  • Liam Gillick

    Liam Gillick’s art is often emphatically placeless. His most familiar sculptural works merge forms adapted from Minimalism with the faux-cheerful design styles of present-day corporate or commercial meeting areas, from boardrooms to bars. His typically CAD-drawn, RAL-colored, precision-made Plexiglas-and-aluminum structures recall labor or leisure spaces that we might pass through on a daily basis almost anywhere in the world. At the same time, Gillick’s design decisions are frequently informed by progressive art movements from earlier eras (De Stijl, the Bauhaus): varieties of functional,

  • Ciara Phillips

    Asked to write a job reference for the industrious Canadian-Irish artist Ciara Phillips, I might choose to praise her as a committed team player. Much of her work to date—centering on the medium of print, which she employs in the production of images, installations, and interactive situations—has been determinedly collaborative. Phillips is a believer in the democratic accessibility of printmaking, utilizing its tools and processes in ways that emphasize open, experimental situations of communal creativity. Her 2013 exhibition at London’s Showroom—“Workshop (2010–ongoing),” a

  • Charlotte Prodger

    Charlotte Prodger’s Stoneymollan Trail, 2015, the sole work in her first Dublin show, is a dense, elliptical, fitfully autobiographical film essay. It is the Glasgow-based artist’s most substantial moving-image production to date, but throughout its fifty-one restless minutes, it remains a work in search of a finished form. Pieced together from a media-miscellany of HD camera clips, iPhone videos, and older footage found in Prodger’s personal archive of camcorder cassettes, this is at once a tightly packed montage of recorded memories and an insistently inchoate account of the artist’s recent

  • Anne Hardy

    Two site-specific structures in two near-identical rooms: Anne Hardy’s TWIN FIELDS, 2015, shared a similar architectural starting point, but the outcomes could hardly have been more different. Drawing on the dimensions of the Common Guild’s domestic-scale galleries—ground-floor and second-floor front rooms of a converted Victorian town house—Hardy designed and assembled a contrasting pair of voluminous, made-to-measure constructions. These bulky, rickety forms—fashioned from basic builder’s materials such as timber beams, plasterboard, and concrete blocks—were unlikely

  • Vittorio Santoro

    In a 1969 interview, Vladimir Nabokov declared that teachers of James Joyce’s Ulysses should ignore “the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings” and instead “prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced.” For Nabokov, “any ass” could assimilate a book’s general ideas. It was the “sensual spark” created by a text’s uniquely combined details that truly mattered.

    Swiss-Italian artist Vittorio Santoro shares something of this zeal for literary detail. The minimal forms and elliptical content of his drawings, actions, and

  • Eoin Mc Hugh

    A curious meeting of man and beast was central to the keyed-up drama of Eoin Mc Hugh’s “the skies will be friendlier then.” Dominating one end of the room was a grotesque quasi-equine sculpture titled the ground itself is kind, black butter (all works 2014): a headless hybrid animal made mainly from wax, black sheepskin, and steel. It was an absurd and somewhat frightening creature: part staggering newborn foal; part menacing, mutant four-legged ostrich. The sculpture’s title—taken from Seamus Heaney’s 1969 poem “Bogland”—was surely meant to highlight how this unsteady, deformed animal

  • Dennis McNulty

    One way to begin decoding Dennis McNulty’s tech-savvy, aesthetically impersonal work might be, perversely, to consider two key aspects of his biography. First, McNulty’s main training was not in art but in engineering, and across an expansive range of subsequent artistic activities—installations, sculptures, films, sound works, performances—he has continued to develop interests arising from that discipline. Second, during his postcollege years in the 1990s, McNulty’s engineering talents were channeled into the production of electronic music: recording as part of an acclaimed duo, Decal,

  • Caoimhe Kilfeather

    As one of the more admired young Irish artists of recent years, Caoimhe Kilfeather has, naturally enough, featured in a good number of respectable group shows. At such gatherings, however, her minimal sculptures have often stood out—or rather stepped back—as notably undemonstrative, even somewhat morose presences. Included among the up-and-coming talent selected for “Holding Together” at Dublin’s Douglas Hyde Gallery in 2010, Kilfeather chose to show a modest early work, Scheflerra Arboricola, 2007: an apparently fragile geometric representation of a household plant, constructed from

  • Isabel Nolan

    Italo Calvino once argued that writers had to “set themselves tasks that no one else dares imagine.” Artistic vitality becomes possible, Calvino believed, by having “immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement.” Exemplary in this regard is Goethe’s 1780 declaration that he planned to write “a novel about the universe.” Isabel Nolan’s “The weakened eye of day” was no doubt conceived in a similar spirit of absurd overambition. Its title adapted from a description of the dimming sun in Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Darkling Thrush,” this was an exhibition about the universe—or at least

  • Nicholas Keogh

    At the 2005 Venice Biennale, Northern Irish artist Nicholas Keogh took to the waters of the Grand Canal in a homemade motorized gondola. Constructed from a crude jumble of domestic and industrial junk, including a bulky outdoor garbage container, a stained and battered bathtub, and some rusty oil drums, Keough’s Bin Boat, 2005, was a ridiculous but nonetheless viable vessel. The artist and his creative partner Paddy Bloomer piloted through the city with noisy, impertinent disregard for the decorum and tradition of the Venetian waterways. Bloomer and Keogh’s amateur boat-building venture—essentially,

  • Jennifer Tee

    Jennifer Tee’s installations are marked by a deep psychological ambiguity. If often seemingly designed to stimulate psychic serenity or spiritual uplift, they nonetheless advocate no clearly defined paths to inner peace and higher consciousness. Indeed, Tee’s works often leave the viewer with persistent doubts about the possibility of reaching such enlightened states. But this equivocation may be precisely the point. As with other contemporary artists concerned with assorted forms of mystical yearning—Eva Rothschild and Francis Upritchard come to mind—it is in the tensions between