A selection of commissioned texts


Kevin Kavanagh, 2021
for Paper Visual Art journal

When we remember, oil on canvas

Our innate human need to know what is going on, will not be stopped at art’s emotionally saturated facades. Such immediate, experiential enjoyment leaves us feeling vulnerable, perhaps even a little duped. We find it difficult to appreciate artifice for its own tantalising sake. On the whole, an artist will not labour under the expectation of a hypothetical viewer, and why would they? It is difficult enough to bring thoughts from crucible to cast with gratifying fidelity, both emotional and visual… Artistic creation, though inspired by the world, needs to make reality dissolve away around its own formation. The facts of success or failure are real-world matters, but creative expression is a succession of perpetual, unresolved attempts, impossible to quantify, existing as they will in the alternative realities of its audience…

Click here to read on Paper Visual Art


Bennie Reilly | Small Pieces of Precarious Life
Dunamaise Arts Centre, 2017

Thoroughbred (after Degas) | china figurine, shalestone, shell fragment

For Reilly, the acts of walking, observing and discovering objects are the habitual preludes to the creation of her sculptural forms, one that depends on inquisitiveness as an inherent facet of creation. Through the cacophony of shapes and tones, the artist guides the detritus into orbits and the noise of the collection begins to harmonise, even if it is at times atonal. The constituent articles—worn, faded, cracked, expired as they are—have an alluring mystery and Reilly describes her attraction to these as a kind-of romance. Their original beauty was reliant on the holistic intention of their creator. When this spell is broken, they are discarded. A collector recognises value where it lies and plucks it from obscurity. But here we also have the alchemical hand of the artist, which first bides and eventually binds; hoarding the multifarious till a rapport is discovered…

Click here for full essay, with images


Mark Swords | The living and the dead
Temple Bar Gallery, 2017
for Critical Bastards journal

The living and the dead, mixed media on canvas

Before visiting The living and the dead, I heard it discussed by two artists, both of whom paint. They talked about the show with the kind of passion-of-reaction reserved for cultural output which stumps the barometer of our personal taste—an excellent sign that something significant was going on. Neither was quite sure where they stood between the poles of love and hate and if the latter, whether this antagonism was, in fact, the blossoming of a deeper appreciation. There were no other shows in the city at that time which could have provoked such a guttural reaction. Here was an exhibition of rejection, willing and calculated. Rejection of craft, of design, of compositional ideals and—to some degree—of some romantic concept of good taste, however shy and retiring that is these days…

Click here for full essay, with images, as PDF


Anne Hendrick | HOKUM
eight, Dublin, 2012/13

When thinking about the themes addressed in Hokum, as well as those of previous shows by Anne Hendrick, the below symbol occurred to me. A mound and a sphere. The artist’s current body of work is bordered by a trinity of topics: landscape, funeral rites and verisimilitude. At the centre of this, ever present, is the moon. Further, with gold being another important conceit in Hokum, I was interested to discover that this symbol inverted is a sign to denote mined gold. Here, we will include the fool’s variety struck on in Hokum. Throughout her practice since college, Hendrick has riffed on the circle / globe in various connotations: as building blocks and frames, micro and macroscopic…

Click here for full essay, with images, as PDF


Lucy Andrews, Alan Butler, Niall de Buitléar, Joseph Coveney, David Eager Maher, Aoibheann Greenan & John O’Connell
13 Nth Great George’s St, Dublin, 2012

Seven Impertinent Notes on Tentamen
..you are probably wondering why we have
gathered you together in this crumbling house..


There are perfectly good reasons in the minds of children for sticking metallic objects in mysterious tri-part apertures in skirting boards. Similarly, mixing experimental cocktails with every available liquid beauty product in the house holds an undeniable logic, with the hope of mysterious, magical results being at stake, despite the peril of being sent to your room…

Click here for full essay, as PDF


Magnhild Opdøl | Plastic Art {three-person show}
Rua Red, Tallagh, Dublin, 2012
Commissioned by Rua Red

Magnhild Opdøl, Trophy Number One, pencil on paper

…several deer heads, which appear to be arrested in a zombiesque half-state between death and oblivion. Faintly visible, under each one, are places and years carved into the wood – Atna 1906, Hemsjøen 1899, Åstvollen 1908 – names you recognise from your map. Terrains of fungal growth create undulations on the craniums which subtly mimic the landscape they have been taken from and will sepulchrally gaze out over, like memento mori, for lifetimes to come…

Click here for PDF of full text, w/ images

Exhibition catalogue available from Rua Red.


Pilvi Takala | The Trainee
eva International
Limerick City Gallery of Art, 19 May – 12 August 2012
for Paper Visual Art journal

Pilvi Takala, from Working at Deloitte for a month, slideshow presentation

It is difficult to immunise oneself against expectation. My viewing of the Finnish artist Pilvi Takala’s The Trainee was much anticipated – her ideas preceding her like an overly candid movie trailer…

Click here for PDF of full text, w/ images
purchase hardcopy here


Aoibheann Greenan | Tahiti Syndrome
Joinery, April / eva International, May-Aug, 2012

Gauguin Mode, mixed media, 2012; installation shot by Mella Travers

In Mesopotamian myth, the hunting of lions symbolised the circularity of the life cycle through death and resurrection; in ancient Egyptian lore, the constellation-filled night sky was a lion, who swallowed the sun every evening, and so it is perhaps fitting – for an exhibition that draws greatly on science-fiction and pulp philosophy as muses – that as we bounce, it asks of us that darlin’ question, ‘what is the stars?’

Click here for full essay, w/ images, as PDF (print res)


Fiona Marron | First and Last Men
The Joinery, October, 2011
for Paper Visual Art journal
{Hardcopy Dublin Ed.1}

Last and First Men, rear projected HD video (installation view), 2011; image courtesy the artist

Although I know better, this exhibition has inspired in me a fanciful vision of Fiona Marron, circumnavigating Ireland in a little boat; TV and radio receiver pointed at the land, recording news reports and magazine shows. From these she chooses disparate items to weave together uncomfortable narratives, featuring the gross excesses of unfettered capitalism and greed. Every once in a while, she comes ashore, video camera on a tripod, held, resting on her shoulder. Silently, en plein air, she commits to disc, calm, moving images, which evocatively bear testament to her research…

Click here for full article at the Paper Visual website

Click here to download the full Dublin Edition
as a PDF from the Paper Visual website

purchase hardcopy here.


Ceal Floyer | Things
Project Arts Centre, Mar-Apr 2011
for Paper Visual Art Journal

Things, installation shot by Denis Mortell; courtesy of Project Arts Centre

Things is, at heart, a wilfully unsatisfying show. It teases the viewer with morsels on an otherwise clean plate. The Project gallery is filled with identically sized white plinths, approximately four feet high, each fitted flush to the top with a white speaker grille. Despite the generous array, the room feels empty. At irregular intervals, an internal speakers play a short song clip from one of the plinths, sometimes overlapping. The clips consist of isolated fragments of song; in each tiny excerpt the word ‘thing’ – the ultimate banal noun – is sung. There are about thirty different examples, in various genres, lasting from a fraction of a second to several. Almost all are too short to recognise, which benefits the experience, as this is not a show about being pulled into specifics. It revels in its non-commitment and typically for Floyer the work is as simple, but beautifully constructed as a Stephen Wright one-liner…

Click here for full article at the Paper Visual website