Launch: Wednesday 25 July, 6–8pm
Continues: 26 July–4 August
Opening hours: Thurs–Sat, 12–6pm
Event: Artist & Curator in conversation, Saturday 28 July 1pm
In his 1981 essay 'The End of Painting', Douglas Crimp poses the question ‘What makes it possible to see a painting as a painting?”. This is a question that Smyth is aware of in her work, as she explores both the subject of painting and the painting as an object. Frantic splashes of gesso, ink spills, rubbings, and line drawings cover the page; foundation sketches are quickly obliterated by masses of gesso, which then hide beneath further layers of drawing, a process repeated by Smyth which allows for both accident and discovery.
Smyth’s method of mark making is both primitive and refined. The primitive mark is the immediate, of the moment, showing flaws and imperfection. The materials in this process act somewhat autonomously. The refined mark is measured and considered. This mark balances and divides the page, leading the viewer's eyes, neutralising areas, creating composition, demonstrating the ability of the artist to control the viewer's gaze.
Previously described as “portraits of cities”, Smyth’s work could be considered an archive of a particular place in time. The 13,000-14,000-year-old Altamira Cave Paintings, which Crimp suggests marks the beginning of Painting, similarly archive a particular time in history, both in art history and the history of humankind. The primitive nature of Smyth’s process resonates with these paintings, shortening the distance of time between these Cave paintings and the present moment, reminding us of our mortality and of the “eternal essence” of painting.
Bren Smyth is a visual artist living and working in Cork City. A native of Dublin, with a background in animation and illustration, she returned to education and completed her BA in Fine Art at Crawford College of Art and Design in 2014. Smyth has exhibited extensively around Cork. She co-produced and designed the exhibition Women of the South at Farmgate Cafe, Cork in 2016, and in 2014 was chosen by Vivienne Roche RHA to exhibit with six RHA artists and five emerging artists in the John P. Quinlan curated show Select in Triskel Christ Church.
Róisín Bohan is an independent curator and arts facilitator. She is a graduate of UCDs MA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management and CCADs BA in Fine Art. She was the 2017 recipient of Black Church Print Studios Recent Graduate Curator Award, with the resulting exhibition Homo Ludens (Man at Play) taking place in The Library Project in January 2018. Other recent curatorial projects include a series of seven performance art events held between 2016 and 2017 in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios as part of their Studio 6 Open programme. She has curated shows in the MART, Rathmines, Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, and Monster Truck Studios. She currently works at the RHA Gallery and has previously worked with Dublin Gallery Weekend and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios.
This exhibition is supported by project funding from Dublin City Council