In Paint; In Teeth; In Mountains; In Stars
December 09 - January 21 2012
The title of this exhibition In Paint; In Teeth; In Mountains; In Stars refers to a chapter in the novel Moby Dick in which the narrator recounts the abundance of images of whales, seen virtually everywhere by a suitably obsessed whaleman. These images range from man made representations to fleeting illusions in nature. This exhibition is an attempt to explore the resonance and meaning of a range of images through isolation, repetition, visual connections, and gaps.
Whelan’s work is concerned with subjectivity and in particular the experience of looking. The paintings in this exhibition depict a number of subjects; animals, birds, whales, people, and the condition of looking. While there are suggestions of narrative in some of the paintings, most present subjects held in suspended animation, in spaces without place or context beyond enveloping darkness. They occupy a space without context other than the non-nocturnal blackness.
Whelan has a long term relationship with the subjects that she paints, often returning again and again to an image or motif. Her work involves repreatedly looking at and documenting a subject of interest and developing a relationship with it which doesn’t end once a painting has been made.
As Whelan describes the process, “To make a painting of something for me, is to try to get know it, and to interrogate it’s potential as an image. To paint a subject for me, is one stage in a process of observing that subject. This process involves circling back to subjects of previous interest and re-looking at them.”
This exhibition marks a new new departure in Whelan’s practice. Moving away from a purely linear hang, the artist has collaborated with architects, abgc, to create an intervention in the space that will create a particular kind of encounter with the work and connect the ground and first floor galleries. The installation aims to activate the space between the viewer and paintings and to allow the viewer to create their own narratives.
Orla Whelan (b.Dublin 1975) lives and works in Dublin. Her painting practice explores ideas of subjectivity and perception. She is currently undertaking a studio residency at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
Recent solo exhibitions include seeing in black, Roscommon Art Centre, selected by Patrick Murphy RHA(2011), At the Heart of Chance, Draíocht, Blanchardstown curated by Carissa Farrell (2008/09), We live to see each other at thisisnotashop (2007), and Outside at The Return, Goethe Instituit, curated by Mark Garry (2007). Group exhibitions include, Bizar Bazarre, Pallas Contemporary Projects(2010) This must be the place, IMOCA, (2009) There, Not There at Crawford Art Gallery (2008) and Trapezium at the LAB (2008). Orla Whelan has a MA in Visual Arts Practices from Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin (2007), MA European Fine Art from Winchester School of Art, Barcelona (2001) and BA Fine Art from National College of Art & Design, Dublin (1997).