Saturday, December 18, 2010

Three Solo Exhibitions

Three Solo Exhibitions

Ramon Kassam, Laura McMorrow and Mark O’Kelly


22nd October- 6th November 2010
By Deirdre Kelly

The exhibition is housed in OccupySpace, an artist led initiative, part of the Creative Limerick scheme. It comprises three solo artists working in or associated with Limerick city, each with an individual body of work which comes together in a co-operative programme.
Paint-things by Ramon Kasson are the first to feature upon initial entry into the large open exhibition space situated on Thomas Street. The area is stark and ideally suited to Kassam’s large paintings, a feature of his work which he has been focusing on for the last two years and an impressive introduction to the exhibition.

The works are couched in what he considers the slightly ridiculous perception and ideas that contemporary art and artists arouse in the public’s perception. Any element that brings to mind this idea of art, particularly painting, and the artist, is highly suggestible given its associations with art history, art critique, the notion of the artist as a genius etc. Subsequently, he purports that this inevitably opens up a parallel universe of multitudinous proportions concerning where art itself can be situated within. He explores this by producing a series of work which seems to pose questions, attempt to answer them, yet still provokes more questions. This is exemplified aptly in
Paint-things series No.2, which posits that, ‘In art the term painting describes both the act and the result, which is called a painting.’
Paint-things series no.2, Ramon Kasson

A crude makeshift clock,
Paint-things series no.6, a construct of oil on canvas, cardboard, nails, confronts the cyclical nature of the artistic practice. Unsure as to the starting point yet encompassing all the usual suspects associated with ‘art’: Minimalism, portraiture, the nude, landscape, still-life and abstraction.
Paint-things series no.6, Ramon Kasson

The over-all result once comprehended is strangely effective particularly to artists themselves who have long laboured over the belief that every work produced should fit into some one of these historical categories. When in reality this is the last consideration when the artistic practice takes over.

Laura McMorrow’s
Boundaries is featured in its own room to the right of the main Occupy Space gallery. Her quirky, eclectic pieces work well assembled in her own style.

She begins with acquired images be they from old boxes, pictures or whatever found material catches her eye. She has built up a collection of unusual imagery from charity shops of from friends who think they might interest her. Once she decides to obliterate the subject-matter from the derived object, she sets out sometimes in an autobiographical way, sometimes objectively, to subvert the original context of the object thus turning it and the viewer’s perception on their heads. These invariably delicate and strangely unnerving pieces suggest broken narratives as if somehow we have entered a story at the half-way point and it is up to us to interpret and deconstruct how it will continue.
Mound, Laura McMorrow
Mound is a quiet and thought provoking image of ‘exactly what it says on the tin’, a mound of earth or maybe ash which is situated in the middle of a barren landscape. Where or what it is doing there is not clear. Is it a post-apocalyptic heap of dust or just a landfill of waste? The result is challenging yet quietly effective.
Shed roof, Laura McMorrow

While McMorrow’s work is usually on a small-scale, her most effective piece takes up one entire wall.
Shed roof, a group of photographic prints on cardboard displays the image of a shattered roof. All of its elements are carefully positioned to form a circle on the back of a partition. Somehow this imagery is beautifully evocative and conjured up images for me of lost souls drifting in space, trying but never quite succeeding to re-form as one, forever resigned to float in limbo.

Mark O’Kelly’s
Cinema Impero, is positioned towards the back of the room housing Kassam’s work. His is a projected looped DVD of seemingly familiar faces and situations. His concept derives from everyday representations of culture as presented through the media. By highlighting signifiers and what he terms ‘mediated experiences’ rather than their actual cultural or political contexts, he is hoping to engender questions as to the effectiveness and influence of these approaches. His process involved seeing, re-seeing and adopting representations of culture that leads to an engagement with the viewer. A woman stares out with a camera in her hand as if to take a picture of us, thereby turning the concept of the ‘voyeur’ on its head; a couple come together in what might be construed as a provocative encounter. In another, a woman is seen talking straight at the camera. Again, it is up to us to decipher and re-position these images in our own contexts rather than what we have been informed to do.
Cinema Impero, Mark O’Kelly

Over-all, the three exhibitions work well as individual shows, each bringing a unique take on the idea of confronting the viewer into thinking a little bit more about what meets the eye. Kassam does this effectively through a traditional format with a unconventional twist; McMorrow uses a delicate, evocative style while Kelly adopts a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. Yet whatever their own individual processes may be, what they all have in common is that nothing is quite what it at first seems to be. On the evidence of this joint yet separate exhibition, nor should it be.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Are we living in the end times?

Are we living in the end times?

Slavoj Zizek, the philosopher and cultural critic, on the collapse of society and the failure of capitalism.

From Riz Khan, Al Jazeera