Curators Notes, Ruth Carroll, RHA Curator:
Futures, or as it was first known, Eurojet Futures, began in 2001 as a way to address the lack of exhibition opportunities for early career artists. It has taken place almost yearly since then, with a number of pauses for programming and other reasons. The exhibition has a number of parameters; it is jointly curated by myself and Patrick T Murphy, it is confined to artists living and working on the island of Ireland, but at times Irish artists who live abroad, it is designed for early career artists although not defined by age, it is neither a ‘state of the nation’ nor a means to define what Irish art is, impossible to do so in a globalised and homogenised artworld, but rather a snapshot of art practice at a particular time. Studios visits, peer recommendations, artist-run exhibition spaces, grad shows, including the recent RDA VAA, and previous research form the starting point for selection and deliberation.
The images you see are from the 2018 iteration and included work by Bassam Al-Sabah, Cecilia Danell, Laura Fitzgerald, Jennifer Mehigan, Joanne Reid and Marcel Vidal. For many artists it was the first time that they had worked and exhibited within a museum context, work coming from studios for debut or reframing of certain artworks in new ways. For the organisation it heralded the start of working relationships with these artists and a hope that we, as an institution, will be able to work with these talented individuals into the future.
4* Review of Futures by Aidan Dunne, Irish Times, 27.11.18. See HERE
This exhibition is the second in the third series of Futures, a sequence of exhibitions that endeavors to document and contextualise the work of early career artists, around who exists a growing critical and curatorial consensus.
The artists in Futures, Series 3, Episode 2 are selected from various artist-led initiatives, group shows and over a series of studio visits undertaken in the last 18 months by Patrick T. Murphy, RHA Director and Ruth Carroll, Curator.
The artists chosen for this year’s Futures exhibition are; Bassam Al-Sabah, Cecilia Danell, Laura Fitzgerald, Jennifer Mehigan, Joanne Reid and Marcel Vidal.
Bassam Al-Sabah’s work aims to convey visions of war, resistance and perseverance. He utilises multi-media installation comprising of video, painting, sculpture and printed matter. The work is concerned with how the past is continually revised to meet the present when the juvenile fantasy breaks down into the reality of adulthood.
Cecilia Danell’s current body of paintings is based on winter walks in the area surrounding her family farm in Sweden, where the experience of being in the landscape influences the paintings beyond the photographic source material. Foregoing the picturesque for the partial and askew, there is an appearance of melting of the landscape, suggesting an existential undoing, as well as an ongoing exploration into the possibilities of the medium of paint.
While often operating within a humorous lens, Laura Fitzgerald’s work points to problematic and absurd aspects in complex political and personal situations. Her work contains woven narratives which exist between real, imagined and rumoured states. The work examines ideas around occupation, labour, rumour, stillness, inertia and waiting. She poses several questions around ethics and inappropriateness, regarding what is deemed legitimate or downright out of order, in terms of art making and the life of an artist.
Joanne Reid’s sculptural practice is rooted in a fascination with material culture. Her work often begins as a direct response to chance encounters with the materials, objects and spaces that form our built environment. Reid works with both discarded and new material, reflecting her interest in the life cycle of objects.
There is an element of surrealism to Jennifer Mehigan‘s work that allows for simulations of wedding cake to exist alongside necrotic human tissue, emeralds, and lava. Fragmented narratives and mythologies perform a type of queer illegibility that recognizes its own participation in an image economy but remains slippery enough to avoid being co-opted too enthusiastically.
Marcel Vidal works intuitively with a variety of materials, constructing distinctive sculptures, that often stage and frame his paintings. His volatile assemblages are built from hardware materials, strips of wood, zinc plated bolts, castor wheels, spray paint, expanding polyurethane foam, string, feathers, fur pelts, deer hooves and suggest a function. These processes produce objects that create a dichotomy between what the seemingly gentle aesthetic of the paintings convey versus the visceral and brutal aesthetic of the sculptures.
Image: Marcel Vidal, Silverfish, The Dock Arts Center, Leitrim, 2018, Paint, faux grass, metal, feathers, wool, paint, expanded polystyrene, zinc fittings, watercolours on, paper, oil on linen, Photography by Lee Welch, Image courtesy of the artist.