December 12, 2014 - February 25, 2015
Niamh O’Malley’s art is in some respects connected to Irish landscape painting, and despite its phenomenological emphasis on processes of seeing, looking, and perceiving, it can be surprisingly Romantic. It would be a little far-fetched, but not entirely wrong, to suggest that at the core of her work there is a melancholic attraction to darkness, intimacy, and reflection, even though layering, enfoldment and fragmentation keep the excesses of Romanticism at bay.
The new films in this exhibition, and most of the objects too, are no exception. In Nephin, for instance, the camera circumnavigates a mountain in the area where the artist grew up; while we never lose sight of its picturesque allure, irregular movement and a permanent ‘blind spot’ in front of the lens ensure that our gaze can never settle. The journey around the mountain is faintly reminiscent of the traditional Tibetan Buddhist circumambulation of Mt. Kailas, a pilgrimage that is undertaken to achieve wisdom and merit, and in turn this brings to mind the artist’s earlier film about Lough Derg, the destination of many an Irish pilgrim. Looked at from a particular perspective, there is a longing for belief and homecoming not far from the surface of her art.
It may not be significant, but it is nevertheless intriguing, that the camera travels round Nephin counter-clockwise, which in traditional cultures would be deemed to be going against the grain and the normal way of doing things. Similarly, barriers, blocks and veils are common in Niamh O’Malley’s work, and they are intrinsic to her determined interrogation and disruption of the immediate and obvious. This obstinacy, however, is never at the expense of her visual and emotional sensitivity, which is finely balanced between feeling and analytical detachment.
A new publication with a text by Rebecca O’Dwyer will accompany the exhibition. The Douglas Hyde Gallery would like to thank the artist for her commitment and enthusiasm in preparing the exhibition.