Press Release for a soul's escape

9 Aug 2014


 a soul's escape presented by Rubicon Projects The Octagonal Room, City Assembly House Irish Georgian Society, 58 South William Street, Dublin 2                      Opens Thursday 15th May (The exhibition continues until Saturday 31st May 2014.)     Hours :   Wednesday-Saturday, 12-5pm and by appointment 01 670 8055



The soul has moments of escape -  

When bursting all the doors -  

She dances like a bomb, abroad,  

And swings upon the Hours,                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Emily Dickinson F340


Artists see beyond what is obvious on the surface. Their view can highlight awkward questions for us. In this latest Rubicon Projects exhibition, at The Octagonal Room of the Irish Georgian Society, the questions are those around the structures and systems within which we all function.

We have accommodated to quite complicated routines and relationships, with patterns of behaviours and actions to support them. This order keeps everyday things moving smoothly and with a certain speedy-certainty.  But it also defines, and often reduces, how we engage with the world. Or at least reduces our conscious knowledge of it. Artists, as observers of things, can often see or see differently the effects of these managed behaviours; they are not complaisant, they are curious dissenters - artists are explorers of experience and are unafraid to break down the functional and the familiar into altogether different shapes.

For over five decades, the internationally celebrated artist Brian O'Doherty has rigorously interrogated the limits of perception, identity, language, serial systems, and explored ways of expanding viewers' minds as well as their senses. Likewise Maud Cotter's work has changed form, media and scale over three decades but her singular vision and rigorous scrutiny of the world she experiences is both enlightening and liberating. She says "I understand the human condition as being, not just tentative by virtue of our vulnerability, but one that is necessarily so, in order to retain our closeness of connection with a changing world."  Both Ronnie Hughes and Patrick Michael Fitzgerald look to science and the natural world to reveal, re-visualise or re-organise the codes and systems within those disciplines and offer parallel visual forms. Marie Hanlon and Sherman Sam consciously break their intuitive stride through music, sound, and noise; they actively allow their actions to be persuaded out of familiar or reflex patterns.

In this exhibition, held in a space that itself boasts mathematically precise, proportions and volumes; six artists explore visual strategies that scrutinize the norms and dictates of accepted systems to negotiate their own soul's moments of escape - and maybe through them, our escape too.

Maud Cotter views sculpture as an action, critical to our understanding of the mercurial game of randomness and order of living.  She is sensitive to the imperceptible gaps between 'things'; silences in language, the empty spaces in a built environment, and absence as a perceptible presence. In recent work she aims "to hold an intangible moment, to capture a part of the void, like a ghost within the work."  Her monumental sculpture in this exhibition is actually a manifestation of numerous individual structures, elements and gestures with disparate intentions.

Patrick Michael Fitzgerald's process is, at a glance, utterly organic; he starts with a specific memory of some thing, place, or even a sensation that he reworks, interweaving other elements. But it's clear from this artist's pursuit of an open-ended representation of these definite things that he believes that nothing is quite as it seems, that things are connected and interdependent however oblique. "The everyday can have a blind weight to it; the challenge is how to open it up, break it open even. The marvellous is always close at hand and often overlooked." There is an element of recycling: discarded paintings or studio debris can be incorporated into a work, something from nothing, a kind of radical humility.

Marie Hanlon is concerned with a tug of opposites. Sound is a key factor throughout her work; it offers a rich field of suggestive possibility, for her this helps "to make the normal seem strange and the strange, very familiar". This artist uses specific devices to resist the force of accepted systems of perception and expression and takes every opportunity to agitate the underlying geometry, to "nudge symmetry into disorder". Hanlon has recently made a series of drawings, laying down marks to the beat of a metronome, suppressing her learnt and innate visual tendency and thereby re-ordering her own parameters.

Ronnie Hughes' staccato titles, "Marcato", "Klacto", "Viscera", for example, make reference to many different fields of expertise, outside of visual art. Chemistry, biology, astronomy, botany, music and mathematics all have studied and published formulae and theoretical structures, these offer this artist a starting point for images or maybe inform his interpretation of a finished work. Paintings take the form of corrupted abstractions that investigate, and at times conflate, dichotomies; he is "most interested in tensions between fate and accident, order and entropy, between the teleological and the merely random."

Sherman Sam's paintings and drawings have tender imagery and a kind of tough attitude. The paintings, usually no taller than twelve inches, are painted on hand-made wood panels; in contrast the surfaces are rendered in thin, light, jewel-coloured glazes barely contained within soft quavery, layered lines. There is a slow, (hard-won) but offhand quality used to create pictorial space and realize an object as "an incomplete ideal".

Brian O'Doherty was described in the New Yorker as "one of New York's most treasured artist/intellectuals", he left Ireland in the 1960s, to emerge as a highly influential figure in the New York art scene. In addition to his work as a visual artist, he is a renowned writer and critic and a significant cultural figure on both sides of the Atlantic. O'Doherty invented several personae and worked as an artist under the pseudonym "Patrick Ireland", 1972-2008. In 1976, his Artforum essays "Inside the White Cube" made him a key figure in the discourse around the presentation of contemporary art. His work on paper, in this exhibition, shows sequences of short formal lines in deliberate patterns: a disciplined decoding of a language, or encoding of another audio visual experience.