Daily Archives: January 12, 2016

VAN Critique November/December 2015: ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ Mel French at Luan Gallery, Athlone

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Mel French, Fledgling, 2015, wax, tree, steel

Mel French
‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’
Luan Gallery, Athlone
5 September – 30 October

MEL French is well known as the recipient of public commissions, but ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ at the Luan Gallery is her first solo show. The two handsome rooms of the gallery, one dark and one bright, offer the artist a resonating setting for her sculptural exploration of affects.

Entering the building, we first face Interjection (2006), an aluminium bust on a plinth. The screaming figure with its distorted features and bulging neck muscles belies the classical format. It aptly sums up the impression left by the summer’s news with its escalating emotional appeal to our attention; only the outrageously loud will be heard. In the darkened gallery, four works are set up. Permeo (2005) is a near life-size group of two bodies simultaneously fighting each other off and entangled together – quite literally – as the arm of one goes right through the torso of the other and back. They seem unable either to embrace or get away from each other. (more…)

VAN Critique November/February 2015: ‘Into The Woods’, Gary Coyle at the RHA, Dublin

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Gary Coyle, After Watteau, photo by Paul McCarthy

Gary Coyle
‘Into The Woods’
RHA, Dublin
4 September – 18 October 2015

THE overwhelming feeling upon entering into the RHA’s Ashford Gallery, given over to Gary Coyle’s compact solo exhibition, is of crossing into the realm of fantasy and fairy tales. This is thanks to the show’s eponymous work which covers all four walls, a floor-to-ceiling ‘wallpaper’ featuring digitally-reproduced drawings of a dense Northern European forest of dark blue birch trees.

Tucked among the trees, there is a little cabin picked out in a lighter blue, a refuge from the dense woods, or a possible haven for the lost traveller. But the cabin, it transpires, is a representation of the isolated shack built by the USA’s notorious domestic terrorist, Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. Coyle is fascinated by American boogeymen, including serial killers, and allusions to these sinister characters appear again and again in his work. (more…)

VAN Critique November/February 2015: ‘Softening the Stone’, Chris Campbell- Palmer at Platform Arts

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Installation view of ‘Softening the Stone,’ image courtesy of Platform Arts

Chris Campbell-Palmer
‘Softening the Stone’
Platform Arts, Belfast
4 September – 24 October

‘SOFTENING the Stone’, a solo exhibition of work by London-based Chris Campbell-Palmer (b. Belfast, 1990), marks an exciting time in the career of the artist and in the evolution of Platform Arts as an exhibition space.

Founded in 2009 as a studio group for contemporary practitioners, Platform’s ambitious approach to the development of their exhibition programme is highly impressive, as is this presentation of new work by Campbell-Palmer. The exhibition marks the launch of Platform’s reconfigured gallery layout, which has seen the venue transformed from an expansive 3000-square-foot gallery into two distinct, and arguably more manageable, exhibition spaces. Despite the reduction in size of Platform’s main exhibition space, it by no means feels like a compromise in terms of scale, and the gallery remains capacious and industrial – an ideal setting for Campbell-Palmer’s sculptural and relief works. (more…)

VAN November/December 2015: Alberto Flores Discusses the Curatorial Residency he Undertook at Fire Station Artists’ Studios, Dublin, July 2015

Francisco López

Francisco López performing at Museo Vostell Malpartida, 24 September 2010

Residency Profile


“Why Ireland?” was the recurring question I heard from almost every artist I met last July. I was selected for the Fire Station Artists’ Studios International Curator Residency Award and I researched Irish sound art and experimental music for two weeks, interviewing and conducting studio visits with sound artists based in Cork, Limerick, Kells and Dublin. (1) The outcome of this residency will be a sort of presentation of Irish exploratory music (which will definitely manifest as a publication and hopefully some live acts as well) at the sound art event I have been co-curating since 2007 at Museo Vostell Malpartida, a museum founded in 1976 by German Fluxus artist and video-art pioneer Wolf Vostell, located at Los Barruecos natural monument in Malpartida de Cáceres (Extremadura, western Spain). (more…)