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Irish Art Now at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition of works drawn primarily from the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s own Collection, which has recently completed a successful two-year tour of the USA and Canada, opens to the public at IMMA on Wednesday 14 November. 'Irish Art Now: From the Poetic to the Political' examines the repositioning of Irish identity in the 1990s as reflected in the work of 13 leading artists. The 44 works mirror the profound changes in Ireland’s political economic and cultural life in a decade which raised questions about traditional identities and the relationships between male and female, urban and rural, North and South, history and the present.

'Irish Art Now', organised by Independent Curators International, New York, in collaboration with IMMA, is curated by the Museum’s former Director, Declan McGonagle. It brings together younger as well as more established artists and includes works by Dorothy Cross, Willie Doherty, Mark Francis, Ciarán Lennon, Alice Maher, Caroline McCarthy, Fionnuala Ní Chiosáin, Abigail O’Brien, Maurice O’Connell, Alanna O’Kelly, Kathy Prendergast, Billy Quinn, and Paul Seawright. Using painting, photography, sculpture, video and installation the artists explore subjects ranging from the personal and poetic to the political.

The commonly held perception of Irish art as poetically engaged with the misty, boggy landscape of the west of Ireland, is wittily questioned by Caroline McCarthy in 'Greetings', a video piece in which the artist attempts, unsuccessfully, to find a place in this landscape. In Kathy Prendergast’s 'Love Object', 'Secret Kiss' and 'Prayer Gloves' the lasting and enduring qualities of love and human aspirations cause the fusion of the person and the object, a process that is mirrored by the act of knitting by which the work was created. Alice Maher combines nature and art in 'Berry Dress' and 'Staircase of Thorns' to present images that are simultaneously alluring and frightening, while the fairytale element in these works is taken up again in her remarkable hair drawing Coma Berencies.

Commenting on the exhibition, Catherine Marshall, Head of IMMA’s Collection said: “The thirteen artists assembled in this group exhibition have one overriding thing in common. They are all sophisticated art practitioners in a world that is constantly changing. They are not merely aware of that changing landscape but ready to contribute to the changes themselves, not just in Ireland but in a wider world. Their art is a vehicle for direct engagement with the world, ultimately a political position.”

Since September 1999 the exhibition has toured to the McMullen Museum, Boston; the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, St Johns; Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Chicago Cultural Center.
A 96-page, full-colour catalogue, published by Merrell Holberton features an in-depth discussion of these artists’ work by curator Declan McGonagle as well as a general portrait of contemporary Ireland by cultural critic Fintan O’Toole (price £19.95, €25.33).

Irish Art Now continues until 7 March 2002.
Admission is free.
Opening hours: Tue - Sat 10.00am - 5.30pm
Sun, Bank Hols 12 noon - 5.30pm
27 – 29 Dec

Closed:Monday
24 – 26, 31 Dec
For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Philomena Byrne or Monica Cullinane at Tel : +353 1 612 9900,
Fax : +353 1 612 9999 email press@modernart.ie

2 November 2001

 

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