Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"Inside out - outside in"
May 6th - May 30th
Launch 16th May - 6 pm
paintings and installation
Superficially, Niall McCormack's recent work deals in a familiar visual currency of the most tangible feature of the now-fading Celtic Tiger years: the burgeoning property market and the proliferation of housing 'units' that has become a ubiquitous subtext to the contemporary Irish landscape. McCormack, it seems is presenting as an appositely familiar artistic metaphor.
His meticulously rendered structures evoke architectural accuracy, and are effected with painstaking attention to detail. And yet these uniformly windowed housing units and agglomerations lack doors or chimneys - features that would render the structures practical and habitable. Thus the buildings enter the realm of the surreal, ciphers that reflect the artist's own concerns.
The faceless uniformity of McCormack's houses creates a sense of disquiet and foreboding, of soullessness. It speaks of isolation and the contradictions of living together but being apart - a house not as the cliched home but rather as an instrument of separation, of incarceration, even. The long, hard shadows cast hint at the melancholic urban landscapes of de Chirico or Sironi. The houses are located within an amorphous landscape
of contours and horizons devoid of many features that would impart a sense of authentic, gritty reality: even the silhouettes of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay (the geography of the artist's own experience) exist as schematic notes: context uncontextualised.
The buildings are cold and precisely delineated, and the only warmth to be found in a uniformly cool palette is in the ironic pastel shades that adorn the walls of the buildings - hues that aspire to a received perception of 'niceness' but are all the more jarring and unsettling for the apparent disingenuousness of thatintention.
The larger instutional agglomerations of McCormack's architectural phylum are clearly created from smaller individuals units, a metaphorical as well as visual allusion to the hierarchical nature of societal structure. The resultant configurations - angular and uncomprimising - seem particularly at odds with their pale mix-and-match plumage, presenting as a disquieting kind of 'pastel gothic'. They suggest echoes of institutional settings, with their own associative disquiets within the contemporary consciousness. McCormack's paintings are not proposed designs for living. Rather, they quietly but effectively offer warnings: of the consequences of isolationism both externally and internally imposed; of faceless institutional unaccountability; and of the dehumanising and aesthetically bereft tendencies of unregulated commodification.
Ian Wieczorek, artist