The Erlish Tide is a major new exhibition by Kevin Mooney, commissioned by the Excel Gallery, Tipperary. It is the artist’s first solo show since 2019 and includes large scale paintings informed by his research into the history, mythology and folklore of Samhain and Halloween. The work explores the idea of the festival as cultural coloniser. Kevin Mooney’s previous research around the migration of Irish people, and its relationship with a “lost” Irish art history, has also been important in developing the work. The famine in Ireland was the crucial event in turning Halloween into a global phenomenon, as Irish refugees brought their culture, stories and traditions with them to North America. “Blighters” is the largest piece in the show and presents a version of van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters” as ghosts of Irish famine victims.
Commenting on the process of making this new body of work, the artist notes that “early Celtic notions of fluid boundaries between humans and the natural world, the living and the dead, or between body and spirit, are suggested in the paint application and processes of the work. References to Irish mythology abound in the motifs and titles of the works.”
The materials of oil, distemper and acrylic on jute bring the art historical and the contemporary together, creating multiple temporalities on the one space of the canvas. Jute, with its history as a material linked to global trade, suggests the migration of goods, people and ideas. With these new works, Mooney mines the potential of ancient myth for new dreaming.
This exhibition is generously supported by an Arts Council Commissions Award.
Kevin Mooney is a Cork-based artist who has recently exhibited in Pines Eye at The Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, (2020) Tulca Festival, Galway (2020) and EVA International, Limerick (2018). His work is held in major collections such as The Highlanes Gallery, the OPW and The Arts Council of Ireland.
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