The title of Jane Irish’s most recent solo exhibition, “A Rapid Whirling on the Heel,” adapted a phrase from Edgar Allan Poe’s epic 1848 prose poem Eureka. Poe’s text unfurls a cosmology that anticipated the “big crunch” theory of an infinitely collapsing and expanding universe. Mobile conceptions of time and location, the likes of which undergird modern cosmic physics, similarly permeate Irish’s decade-long painterly inquiry into the histories of Western imperialism and resistance knotted around the Vietnam War. The exhibition comprised fifteen framed egg-tempera paintings, ink drawings, and preparatory studies, each ostensibly depicting an ornate European period room or a Vietnamese heritage site, and a large-scale triptych, Cosmos (all works cited, 2015), which was suspended theatrically from the gallery’s high ceiling. Each work takes anachronism as the structuring device for
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