SEEING THINGS// Kevin Mooney
Exhibition Dates: June 1st-24th, Private View: Thursday June 1st (6-8).
In this latest body of work Kevin Mooney presents a series of paintings inspired by the ancient history of art in Ireland, and more specifically the poetry of Seamus Heaney. The series takes its title from the Heaney poem “Seeing Things”. Making reference to his father’s passing, Heaney’s work explores the thread of nature itself, the senses laid bare; exposing the links between body, spirit and heritage. In “Seeing Things” land becomes material, exposed and reflexive, the stuff of life coming to the surface and what has gone before momentarily intermingling with the now. It is here that much of Mooney’s work resides.
Inishbofin on a Sunday morning.
Sunlight, turfsmoke, seagulls, boatslip, diesel.
I saw him face to face, he came to me
With his damp footprints out of the river,
And there was nothing between us there
That might not still be happily ever after
The paintings themselves explore a confusion of land and sky; the textures of both are complex and heavy, each meeting and closing in on the other – overlapping sometimes, yet resiliently retaining them-selves. For much of Mooney’s practice this idea of overlap occurs both physically and metaphorically – his paintings explore this other space of our existence, the one that appears just out of the physical viewpoint. Shades of green and pewter expose the land, tempering the space of the work with a perceived knowableness. Nebulous heads furl and uncurl, eyes appear wide-eyed and surfacing, manipulating the weft of the linen into a diorama of imagined faces. Gold flecks and scrapings expose the under painting, as if the artist is aiming to create something tangible, and at the same time expose the folly of doing so.
As an Irish painter Mooney is not coming from that space of defined lineage, more a chaotic and rich re-appropriation of styles that span our ancient pagan symbology, a schism of European figuration and 20th Century abstraction. Therefore this deconstruction of painting, the slipping into and out of figuration and symbol, allows for an informed analysis of where painting today is coming from, and ultimately, where it is going.
“One cannot crystallise in material form what does not yet exist in material form. The spirit that will lead us into the realms of tomorrow can only be recognised through feeling (to which the talent of the artist is the path). Theory is the lantern that illuminates the crystallised forms of yesterday and before.” 1
- Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1914
Hilary Murray, Curator ArtBox
Kevin Mooney is an Irish artist based in Cork. He graduated from the Masters in Fine Art, NCAD in 2012. Solo shows include “Twilight Head Cult”, Ormston House, Limerick, 2016, “Wave”, Pallas Projects, Dublin 2014, “Dog Island Tales”, Talbot Gallery, Dublin 2014, Nag Gallery, Dublin 2010, “Timeline” Queen Street Gallery, Belfast, 2010 and “Facade”, Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Co. Wicklow, 2009. Selected group exhibitions include “Looking Forward, Looking Back Now”, at Tactic Gallery, Cork, “What Is and What Might Be”, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, 2015, “Making Familiar”, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, 2012, “Horizon Sprawl”, Ormston House, Limerick 2012, and “Video Killed the Radio Star”, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin 2010. He received a Visual Artists Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland in 2012, 2013 and 2016. In 2015 he was shortlisted for Wexford Arts Centre’s Emerging Artist Award. He was also shortlisted for the Thames and Hudson publication “100 Painters of Tomorrow” in 2013. In 2012, he was longlisted for the Saatchi New Sensations Prize.