Gemma Tipton

  • picks June 24, 2019

    Anita Groener

    A circular forest of twigs juts out from the wall. Look closer: Tiny silhouetted people march across the small branches. Intricate, beautiful, perilous, Anita Groener’s Prolonged by a Hundred Shadows, 2018, draws you into its darkness. The figures reappear in Untitled, 2017, and again in an installation of twenty birches, The Past Is a Foreign Country, 2018. The trees, suspended from the ceiling, display parts of their truncated roots. Their branches make a maze in which the miniature travelers are forever trapped.

    These installations are echoed in delicate ink drawings with circles of small

  • picks May 06, 2019

    Hannah Fitz

    In earlier works, Hannah Fitz rendered domestic objects both eternal and strange. Sculptures like Candelabra and Table, both 2017, show smoke—from a burned-out candle in the former, wafting forever skyward, and from a cigarette in an ashtray in the latter, doing the same. Now, for her first solo show, titled “OK,” the human form has taken center stage, though Fitz hasn’t sacrificed any of the strangeness.

    Fashioned from steel, card, fiberglass, and resin, a cluster of eight figures appear to be at play. While loosely based on the artist’s own body, these models have none of the aggrandizing

  • picks April 17, 2019

    Michael Dean

    “FECKSAKE” stammers across the hazard tape wrapping the gatepost of St Carthage Hall; tatters of the yellow material flap from the gate itself. The minced oath is a localized version of its angrier Anglo brother, “FUCKSAKE,” which appears inside. It’s a colloquial softening of implicit rage; in Ireland, they can tell you to “feck off” without causing offense. This balance between gentle persuasion (or exasperation) and cold fury is the axis on which Michael Dean’s site-specific installation turns.

    A lone sculpture made from twisted rebar and cloaked in the pages of splayed paperbacks, Laughing

  • interviews April 03, 2018

    Alice Maher

    The Irish artist Alice Maher’s work is, by turns, a powerful call to action and a persuasive invitation for reflection. Her solo exhibition “Vox Materia” at Source Arts Centre in Tipperary, Ireland, which she discusses below, is on view through May 5, 2018. Here, she also talks about her work in the next EVA International, which will run from April 14 through July 8, 2018. Additionally, Maher’s new film, The Sixth Skin (2018), made in collaboration with artist Aideen Barry, will premiere at the Cork Film Festival this fall.

    YOU MIGHT THINK WOMEN come out pretty negatively in myths and history,

  • picks June 16, 2017

    Maria Farrar

    There’s a school of painting that is easy to like: representational, with an edge of abstraction in the gestures, and frequently colorful with a touch of the fey. Yet this type of painting is very hard to do well—to make something both pretty and powerful. Great examples are Karen Kilimnik, Lisa Yuskavage, Mairead O’hEocha, and now, recent art-school graduate Maria Farrar.

    Farrar was born in the Philippines, raised in Japan, and trained as an artist at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford and London’s Slade School of Fine Art. This history is embedded in her images—hints of different

  • picks February 07, 2017

    Daphne Wright

    There is a satisfying frisson—aesthetic, emotional—that rests between the beautiful and the repellent. From a distance, Daphne Wright’s Stallion, 2009, is a glorious thoroughbred, rolling on the ground with abandon. Come closer and see that the beast, cast from a freshly slaughtered horse in resin and marble dust, has been partially eviscerated. A jolt of infinitesimal recoil follows before fascination takes over.

    This midcareer retrospective, organized with Bristol’s Arnolfini art center, takes in the various strands of Wright’s practice: filmmaking, sculpture, drawing, and sound. While all her

  • picks December 15, 2016

    Barbara Knezevic

    Three tall Perspex plinths are filled to varying heights with dark earth, from which grow robust green fronds of Monstera deliciosa, also known as the hurricane plant. They are like columns, punctuating sites of action or defining the edges of a film set. With them are a number of low, gray daises, and clusters of other objects, their import ambiguous.

    With Exquisite tempo sector, 2016, Barbara Knezevic has created an environment in which nature and culture sit in delicate balance, although which is which isn’t always clear. A large photograph shows hands stretching a piece of dyed green leather,

  • picks November 15, 2016

    Kathy Prendergast

    Kathy Prendergast has long made a practice of maps. From her 1983 series of watercolors “Body Maps,” which conflated cartography with the female body, to her delicate “City Drawings,” 1992, which won her the Premio Duemila at the 1995 Venice Biennale, she has proven her observation that “all maps are subjective,” with fresh explorations that address naming, control, personal memory, borders, and exclusion.

    For Atlas, 2016, Prendergast has laid out one hundred copies of the AA Road Atlas of Europe, each open to a different page, on as many trestle tables. By painstakingly blacking out all but the

  • picks August 17, 2016

    Alan Phelan

    As Ireland marks the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising—the failed revolution that, nevertheless, defined the independent Republic—arts programming throughout the state is exploring that event’s various legacies. One of the most thought-provoking and intelligent exhibitions to come out of this is from Alan Phelan. In a small installation and separate thirty-minute video, the artist imagines an alternate future for one of the revolution’s antiheroes, Roger Casement, who was knighted for his work on human-rights abuses in the Congo Free State and Peru, yet imprisoned for bringing German weaponry

  • picks August 08, 2016

    “A Weed is a Plant Out of Place”

    The curator of this group exhibition, Allegra Pesenti, is a specialist in drawing. This is readily apparent with the seventeen artists she’s selected, who offer up a range of works in varying degrees of subtlety and delicacy. Michael Landy’s series of weed etchings, “Nourishment,” 2002, hanging in a line across an entire wall, are the exhibition’s linchpin. Landy’s renderings of these plants are a testament to the perseverance of the seemingly fragile, highlighting unexpected beauty in the most inhospitable of spots. Adrian Paci’s video The Guardians, 2015, echoes Landy’s sentiments with its

  • picks July 14, 2016

    Brian Duggan

    In the midst of the carnage of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated eastern Japan in 2011, the Ryou-Un Maru fishing boat was swept out to sea: one more casualty of a catastrophic event in which almost 18,500 people died or went missing. Here it becomes the focus of artist Brian Duggan, who’s made a habit of exploring risk, hazard, and failure.

    Duggan has constructed a dramatic scale model of the Ryou-Un Maru (all works 2016) out of metal, wood, carpet, and reclaimed and recycled materials, among other media. The ship, languishing at an angle and faintly illuminated by a string of

  • picks January 07, 2016

    Grace Weir

    In Grace Weir’s Footnote: If only something else had happened, 2011, two sets of headphones are anchored to a stone. The audio track is an interview between the artist and cognitive scientist Ruth Byrne. “In constructing our alternatives to reality,” says Byrne, “we are constrained by our understanding of reality.” This problem presents the key to exploring the works representing sixteen years of Weir’s practice.

    The hauntingly mesmerizing Dust defying gravity, 2004, is the four-minute video result of a camera tracking through the rooms at Dunsink Observatory, passing by antique telescopes and

  • picks December 29, 2015

    “The Future is Self-Organized”

    Exhibition fliers and newspaper clippings cover the walls of the Limerick City Gallery of Art, as if it has been turned into a fully papered box office—on a grand scale. Looking closer, one discovers that these ephemera span two decades of art projects from Catalyst Arts, Pallas Projects/Studios, 126, Occupy Space, and Black Mariah—all artist-run spaces, celebrated by Pallas to mark its upcoming twentieth anniversary. The sense of cacophonous energy engendered by these materials is heightened by a cluster of monitors on plinths, showing footage of further projects. Visitors find their attention

  • picks September 23, 2015

    Amanda Coogan

    A mesmerizing presence, Amanda Coogan commands her space during her performances: a considerable feat, as twelve dramatic spotlit installations share the gallery. Each is a costume of sorts—the residue of past performances. On opening night, Coogan stood atop a mountain of a dress: painted fabric draped over a scaffold. And throughout the run of the exhibition, Coogan will re-create six additional performances, building to an intensity anticipated via the bank of video screens in the next space that play footage of Coogan’s works, from the witty performance The Birds, 2003, in which flocks of

  • diary September 01, 2015

    Jupiter Ascending

    NOTE TO SELF: Always travel with snacks. Especially when trying to work your way through four private views a night, plus afterparties. But that’s festivals for you—even the popular Edinburgh Art Festival, which ran through August and which is now in its twelfth year. When “dinner” turns out to be bread rolls, your next day’s agenda of gallery and studio visits can seem a high mountain to climb. They were nice bread rolls—laid out on a table in the gorgeous Georgian surroundings of Edinburgh University’s Playfair Library Hall. The Playfair, one of the finest of its kind in Europe, is, disappointingly,

  • diary July 31, 2015

    The Galway Way

    WE SAT ON A PINK-FLOWERED COMFORTER atop a single bed, surrounded by a panoply of little-girl kitsch. A disembodied voice told of the room’s former occupant, now disappeared, “inventing tales of Barbie punishing Sylvanian Bunny,” and fearing that “the little world I had created in my bedroom would crack to the beigeness of the rest of the house.” The installation, A Girl’s Bedroom, was Enda Walsh’s follow-up to last year’s Room 303, both of which premiered at the Galway International Arts Festival, and both of which offered proof that reality may be most powerful when invented.

    “I’m making a room

  • picks July 16, 2015

    Caroline McCarthy

    When Theodor Adorno wrote of “art with its definitive protest against the dominance of purpose over human life,” he might have been writing a manifesto for Caroline McCarthy. The London-based Irish artist has made a career of works that play with ideas of utility in a market-dominated art world where value, or rather, price, is part of the purpose.

    In McCarthy’s 2011 exhibition “Arrangements,” her piece Shelf Arrangement no. 1 of 720 variations, 2011, consisted of a stack of inexpensive shelving material supported by bronze brackets with hand-cast screws. Here, she escalates the idea of abstracting

  • picks July 13, 2015

    “Riddle of the Burial Grounds”

    Measured against geological time, humans haven’t been around for all that long. Judging from the works in this exhibition, the natural world may have met its match in humanity. Throughout the show, sixteen artists comment on the depredations of time, revealing in the process the moments of willful ignorance, brilliance, and extraordinary beauty that characterize our existence on this planet.

    Pieces from Stéphane Béna Hanly’s 2015 series “Length of a Legacy” are featured in each of the center’s spaces. Three illuminated vitrines contain these meticulously sculpted busts, made in unfired clay,

  • interviews May 18, 2015

    Brian O’Doherty

    Brian O’Doherty’s three “Inside the White Cube” essays were first published in Artforum in 1976. Only a few years earlier, the artist and writer had begun making his “Rope Drawings,” 1973–, which offered new ways of negotiating the space of a gallery. The latest work from this ongoing series, The doors to good and evil and the windows to heaven—Christina’s World, Rope Drawing #123, 2015, is currently on view in “Fragments,” a group show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin consisting of works from the museum’s permanent collection, through July 26, 2015.

    WHEN YOU LOOK AT A BLANK WALL, it

  • picks May 12, 2015

    Sonia Shiel

    Sonia Shiel’s oil paintings tantalize with hints of unresolved narrative. Even her titles, which are presented in the gallery handout in the form of a poem, are allusive yet ultimately obscure: honey drips / all quiet / till one day / never rousing (all works 2015). This conceit is rescued from fey coyness by the strength of Shiel’s canvases and the dark elements that haunt her work.

    Like many of the works in this exhibition, birds flee has a theatricality. A recumbent male figure, dressed like a fairy-tale prince in rich indigo with gold palm tree epaulettes, gazes at an octagonal frame or tray