Emma Schwartz, Joey Bryniarska, Mathilde Ganancia, Paul Gaffney, Woosung Lee
In association with Cow House Studios
Monday 14 September – Thursday 8 October 2015
Curator Frank Abruzzese will present a talk on the exhibition on Tuesday 29 September at 2pm. All welcome to attend.
Wexford Arts Centre in collaboration with Cow House Studios are pleased to announce a group exhibition of 2014 residency artists Emma Schwartz (USA), Joey Bryniarska (UK), Mathilde Ganancia (France), Paul Gaffney (Ireland) and Woosung Lee (Korea). Now in its eight year, Cow House Studios is a progressive artist-run school and residency programme situated on the O’Gorman family farm at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountain. The autumn residency programme offers a valuable support structure for emerging Irish and international visual artists, situating contemporary art practice alongside a deeply rural, agrarian setting.
This exhibition will bring together new works made during and since the eight week residency programme, and will include drawing, painting, photography, installation and video. These works represent the diverse practices of all five participating artists. Expectations give way to experience, events and new undertakings can overwhelm or disappoint, in the end we simplify and compartmentalize these moments and observations to gain perspective, to study and learn. The works included in this exhibition explore possibilities within the self-contained, where complexity is derived from precise explorations of discrete occurrences.
Emma Schwartz’s large scale works on paper are predominately driven by her fascination with façade, costume, and thematic or contained environments. She views these tableaus as representative of broader illusions ranging from ethnocentrism to American exceptionalism, and how the ontological identities of spaces are created through cultural emblems and simulated ambiance. In particular Schwartz comic depiction Venetian Nail Spa inverts single point perspective, flattening three dimensional space as a cartographer might flatten a globe to reveal every surface. Details such as columns resting on cabinetry, stackable chairs in the foreground and awkwardly rendered stonework on the walls suggest that this nail spa is most definitely not in Venice, but likely located in a nondescript suburban strip mall, whose cavities are stripped and re-decorated countless times, catering to retail whims.
The dirty rag was the starting point for Joey Bryniarska’s large watercolour works; baggy grids that move in waves of compression and expansion, outlining a visual field that is not homogenous or static. The dirty rag on the floor of the studio is picked up, utilized and discarded countless times; never washed, never thrown away. The dirty rag performs various tasks, but most of the time it wipes away excess and mops up leakage. Stains, crusts and blobs imprint upon its surface, embedding themselves into the warp and weft of the grey cotton weave. It is both derivative and generative of the painter’s painting. The milking stools that accompany these paintings are also objects associated with leakage, an agent in a process of supplication and extraction. Online e-commerce marketplaces selling vintage goods appropriate the adjective ‘milking’ and add it to the noun ‘stool’, in order to connect the object vicariously to an authentic origin. The layers of paint that have been added over time and scratched or worn away, also perform a type of leakage, a sign of excess.
Mathilde Ganancia’s two videos are rooted in her experience at the 2014 National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois. SHOOT juxtaposes footage of faces in a crowd at the ploughing championships with audio recorded at a fashion shoot. The unobtrusive camera shakes violently with faces almost imperceptibly passing through the frame until the footage slows to reveal a revelatory gaze, intimately illustrating different states; a resentment towards having their image recorded, being trapped within a crowd or their working conditions. Audio from the conflicting social space of the fashion shoot collides with this footage while being simultaneously synced with events unfolding on screen. Navigating between these places, different subjectivities are revealed; the fair in relation to the interior space of the subject, the gap between the subject and the camera and the space between the viewer and the screen. Genuinely Double-Sided illustrates the artist’s naive perception of traditional hand milking methods with the realities of current industrialized farming practice. This collision is represented through a grotesque double-sided puppet; one side displaying a corporate video promoting the latest milking machine, and the other, a clumsy animation spinning and crashing down under the weight of its own decorations.
Paul Gaffney’s recent work explores a meditative approach to landscape photography, and how the act of image making can enable and disrupt a sense of connection with one’s surroundings. Stray is a series of images made during his time at Cow House in the forestation surrounding the farm. The photographic prints and accompanying text written in collaboration with Colm Hall represent a struggle. In an effort to record images in near blackness without the use of a tripod Gaffney pushes the limits of his camera, capturing the stray light that has managed to weave it’s way through the canopy of branches. Simultaneously Gaffney tests his own physicality, navigating the blackness without a map or light, unfamiliar with the difficult terrain. Current camera technology can astound in it’s ability to record what is seemingly not there, but given time for our senses to adjust the resulting images do little to illustrate this experience; in turn revealing the rigidity of tools and the depth of experience.
Woosung Lee similarly spent much of his time in the small wood beside the studio, finding serenity in the densely populated trees and endless moss covering the ground. As a place of refuge to explore his thoughts Lee would find himself meditating for lengths of time. Simultaneously, Lee’s father was not well; still recovering from a stroke. Much of his time was consumed thinking about his family; worrying about them, but also finding serenity in his current state. Beside the laundry at Cow House is a stack of firewood cut from trees in this same forest. Passing by one day Lee noticed these logs and states he could almost hear them say “Everything is going to be fine, it will be good, they are alright, things are all okay.” These anthropomorphized logs from the forest are the central characters in Lee’s large scale digital fabric print and installation titled Fine, Good, Alright, All Okay.
Give Way will run from Monday 14th September to Thursday 8th October at Wexford Arts Centre. For further information on the exhibition or artists please contact Catherine Bowe, Visual Arts Manager, Wexford Arts Centre on 053 9123764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on Cow House Studios please contact Co-Director Frank Abruzzese on 053 9169567 or email email@example.com.
Wexford Arts Centre’s galleries are open from Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm.