GARY COYLE – ‘MY MAG­NETIC NORTH’

The lat­est in­stal­ment in Gary Coyle’s re­flec­tions on iden­tity, place, death, mem­ory – and de­mons within and with­out

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - AIDANDUNNE

Whatisit?

A pho­to­graph that forms part of Gary Coyle’s forth­com­ing per­for­mance piece in­cor­po­rat­ing still pho­to­graphs, mov­ing im­ages and the spo­ken word – the words writ­ten, and per­formed, by the artist.

Howw­a­sit­done?

It’s not the first time that Coyle has taken on the chal­lenge of, one could say, mak­ing a work in the form of a com­men­tary on his own work, and the var­i­ous as­pects of his his­tory, ex­pe­ri­ences and in­sights that in­form it. A su­perla­tive draughts­man, his lens-based work and his writ­ing are equally im­pres­sive.

Where can I see it?

Coyle will per­form My Mag­netic North – di­rec­tion is by Gina Moxley – in the Cube at Project Arts Cen­tre, East Es­sex St, Dublin at 7.45 each evening from No­vem­ber 20th-24th with a pre­view on No­vem­ber 19th (Tick­ets ¤14–¤16, ¤12 for the pre­view, book­ing at pro­jec­tarts­cen­tre.ie, by phone at 01 8819613 or in per­son at 39 East Es­sex St, Tem­ple Bar, Dublin).

Is it a typ­i­cal work by the artist?

Sort of. While he has worked very ef­fec­tively with quite a range of me­dia and forms, a seam of au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal re­flec­tion runs through al­most ev­ery­thing he has done.

He was born and grew up in Dun Laoghaire, a son of the painter John Coyle. But Gary in­clined first to­wards sculp­ture, study­ing at NCAD, then The Art Stu­dents’ League, New York and fi­nally at the RCA in Lon­don. Though one can imag­ine him set­tling eas­ily into Lon­don, which he did, for a time, he grad­u­ally grav­i­tated back to­wards Dun Laoghaire, which has been a rich source of in­spi­ra­tion for him in many ways.

At Sea: The Daily Prac­tice of Swim­ming de­vel­oped from his di­ary doc­u­ment­ing year-round swims at the Forty Foot and formed the ba­sis for an­other per­for­mance piece at Project.

Hu­mour is al­ways present in his work, but hu­mour with an edge to it. Death in Dun Laoghaire, built around a set of vividly con­cise ac­counts of grow­ing up, delved fur­ther into Coyle’s past and the darker side of his home­town.

“All my life I have been fas­ci­nated by death, in all its guises,” he ex­plained. South­side Gothic, the ti­tle of an­other show, aptly de­scribes the mor­bid twist of his imag­i­na­tion.

That show, and sev­eral oth­ers, demon­strated his ex­tra­or­di­nary mas­tery of draw­ing with char­coal on a large scale, an un­usual choice of medium but one he made his own, ideally matched to the den­sity and dark­ness of his im­ages.

In many of his draw­ings, Dun Laoghaire and its hin­ter­land merged with the iconog­ra­phy of hor­ror films: the trope of the fi­nal girl; the brood­ing loner in the woods. Ear­lier on, he’d made charged im­ages of omi­nously empty spa­ces, scenes of crime and the sets of porn films.

With My Mag­netic North his en­dur­ing pre­oc­cu­pa­tions re­main; how places are ab­sorbed into our in­ner lives and can shape us, the fact of mor­tal­ity, how the flow of time in it­self changes ev­ery­thing. His ob­ser­va­tions keep pace with his own life. “What’s the fall­out when you lose your mag­netic north?” He asks. “And you find your­self di­rec­tion­less?”

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