Art Scene: May 27

By James Dignan

Rise and Shine, by Jane Shriffer
Rise and Shine, by Jane Shriffer

"Moving Goalposts", Jane Shriffer
(The Artist’s Room)

Jane Shriffer returns to The Artist’s Room with an exhibition filled with heady impressionistic abstracts.

Light and colour are the most important aspects of Shriffer’s work. Laid on in thick impasto using a palette knife, the artist’s oil paintings fill the gallery with dynamism and a sense of sunlight playing over moving surfaces.

Although the works are purely abstract, there is a strong feeling of passing through a garden in many of the pieces, perhaps triggered by the presence of strong bloom-like shapes and colours under the frequent motif of a pale but warm blue sky.

The pieces are vibrant and captivating, and there is a progression from the artist’s previous work in that the strokes of paint are broader and thicker, making the pieces almost into sculptural forms.

Shriffer is clearly aiming for sheer colour composition and leaving any divination up to the viewer. The works are captivating, while simultaneously leaving much of the work of interpreting what, if anything, is actually represented.

The titles of the works do, however, give broad if cryptic hints and guides to possible meaning, with many of them using affirming aphorisms as an indication that the works are intended to point positive ways forward into the future.

Repetition: Cup, by Richard Killeen
Repetition: Cup, by Richard Killeen
"Repetition", Richard Killeen
(Brett McDowell Gallery)

Richard Killeen has spent much of his career exploring the use of repeated motifs to create patterns which marry the use of modern technology and traditional tribal mark-making.

In many of his images, an attempt has been made to remove the symbol from its surrounds, to produce a design which works without having to compete against or be complemented by its backdrop or context.

The forms are presented on plain unpainted wood, the individual images thus appearing as floating free of any possibly distracting background.

In his current exhibition, Killeen uses a limited set of totemic silhouette forms — dragonflies, cups, houses, and dogs among them - and juxtaposes them in grid patterns that suggests ancient hieroglyphics and Pacific tapa designs. In doing so, he is playing with the idea of representation; the forms no longer mean what they ostensibly are, but are simply an alphabet of characters used to create broader patterns.

These patterns are repeated with rotation and subtle variation, giving the suggestion that each piece could be a tile in a larger - or even infinite - array.

Four of the pieces, Dragonfly works, are even presented as a block, drawing attention to this possibility and suggesting that it is the artist’s intention to have the images viewed as part of a larger display.

We All Shine - Watch You Burn, by Sharon Singer
We All Shine - Watch You Burn, by Sharon Singer
"Tales of the Anthropocene: Nightmares of a Better Tomorrow", Sharon Singer
(RDS Gallery)

There is a famous art-house film called Koyaanisqatsi. The word, from the North American Hopi people translates as "a life out of balance", a life which can only bring chaos. It is this idea that Sharon Singer is exploring in her wildly surrealistic images.

Taking as her lead the idea of the Anthropocene, a defined period during which humankind has had a profound, debilitating effect on the natural world, the artist has produced a series of dystopian paintings in which human activity is juxtaposed with bleak landscapes in garish unnatural light.

Here, deer scatter before the painter’s headlights, MAGA supporters and born-again Christians meet in the Louisiana bayou, and bathers soak in blood-red waters.

The busy canvases have a strong, multi-layered, enigmatic narrative. Not So Lucky presents charms and fetishes together with an anti-Covid facemask: we need more than luck to survive a pandemic.

The peaks of Sugar Mountain, like so many warming glaciers, seem to be melting to the plains - or does the painting’s title refer to Neil Young’s song of thwarted childhood wonder, or the title’s German translation, Zuckerberg, and therefore to the pervasiveness of social media?

The longer you stare at these deep, cryptic works, the more is perceived and the less clearcut the messages become.


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