An exhibition of new work by Westport artist Ger Sweeney was officially opened in the Custom House Studios on Thursday last, May 31, by Catherine Marshal, author, art historian and senior curator at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
As with Sweeney’s earlier work, a compelling play between light and dark marks out many of the pieces in this latest series. The absorbing paintings – mainly executed on small square surfaces, though larger pieces are included – are, as Marshall said, ‘steadfastly abstract’.
However, while Sweeney’s practice in recent years has, as he explains himself, ‘tended to focus on refining a quite structured form of abtraction’, he has taken a ‘broader, more exploratory approach’ in this current series of work.
Sweeney decided to actively engage with spontaneity, allowing the paintings to ‘evolve’ and ‘diversify’, to see where the artwork would take him. However, Sweeney remains keen that his paintings remain open to interpretation by the viewer through their own ‘points of reference and experiences’.
Addressing the large crowd that had gathered for the opening, Catherine Marshall congratulated Sweeney on the exhibition.
Identifying a narrative that accompanies the abstract nature of the pieces, she pointed out that in this series, ‘the process [of creation] is the narrative’. “Ger didn’t start off knowing what he’d finish up with … in a way it’s sophisticated fiddling,” Marshall said. “Look around the gallery … there are adventures and experiments going on.”
Another exhibition also opened on the same night. Located upstairs at the Custom House Gallery, Limerick native Bríd Danagher’s first exhibition, ‘The Voyage’, is comprised of colourful paintings inspired by abandoned boats she found in the west of Ireland. “I came across them by chance,” Danagher explains, “and was instantly excited by their weather-beaten, ageing beauty.” The paintings focus on small sections of the boats, which Danagher discovered at Westport Quay, at Killalla and in Connemara.
Both exhibitions will run at the Custom House Gallery, The Quay, Westport, until June 24.
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