A painter best known for his re­al­ist por­traits turns to flo­ral still life

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE | CRITICS’ CHOICE - AIDANDUNNE


For GRS is an oil paint­ing by Colin David­son.


For GRS is one of a series of 14 paint­ings of the same pro­fuse flower ar­range­ment, made over a pe­riod of about 11 months. Over that time the flow­ers blos­somed and faded, dried out and crum­bled to the point that the artist “was even­tu­ally paint­ing noth­ing but the mem­ory of the ar­range­ment”. The bou­quet was made by Janet Browne in The Flower Room in Belfast.

That there are 14 stud­ies re­lates to the source of David­son’s in­spi­ra­tion, El­gar’s Enigma Vari­a­tions. There are 14 vari­a­tions, each a no­tional char­ac­ter sketch of some­one close to the com­poser, so that the piece is an oblique mu­si­cal au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, though not, ob­vi­ously, in an il­lus­tra­tive or nar­ra­tive way. In fact El­gar pointed out that one could lis­ten to the work as a piece of mu­sic with no spe­cific as­so­ci­a­tions. David­son had long been fa­mil­iar with the vari­a­tions and thought of do­ing 14 vis­ual vari­a­tions, even­tu­ally set­tling on a bou­quet as a means of do­ing so.

David­son painted very freely and it is as if the mass of stems, leaves and blos­soms, the representational im­age, some­how man­i­fests from densely pat­terned lay­ers of vir­tu­ally ab­stract brush­strokes. There are notes of bright colour but the tonal­ity is gen­er­ally muted and even-tem­pered.

Where can I see it?

For GRS is in David­son’s ex­hi­bi­tion Vari­a­tions at the Oliver Sears sur­prise me…” This is it. This is the week­end where we can fi­nally get ex­cited and dress our­selves in tin­sel, head to toe. In a flurry of 1980s and 1990s clas­sics and for­got­ten beau­ties, the Lime & Fancy DJ duo of Cian McHugh and Jenn Gan­non are fa­cil­i­tat­ing this fes­tive carry-on. With mulled wine-stained lips and a string of fairy lights draped over your body, Step into Christ­mas with gusto. LB Gallery, 29 Molesworth Street, Dublin un­til Jan­uary 24th (oli­v­ersears­


David­son is best known for the close-up, larger-than-life por­trait heads – each can­vas just over 4sq ft – that he has been mak­ing since about 2010, but he is by no means ex­clu­sively a por­trait artist. He was born in Belfast. His early work was based on aerial views of Belfast. Then he moved on to the vis­ual com­plex­i­ties found in com­mer­cial ur­ban streets, as the out­side world be­comes en­meshed with re­flec­tions, shop dis­plays and in­te­ri­ors.

He never set out to be a por­trait painter and is wary of the term. An urge to paint his friend, Duke Spe­cial, led to a com­mis­sion for a Glen Hansard al­bum cover, and he hasn’t paused since. His list of Pulitzer prize-win­ning poet Paul Mul­doon to per­form The Wild Dog Rose in cel­e­bra­tion of the re­mark­able life of the poet John Mon­tague. Long-time friends and col­lab­o­ra­tors, John Mon­tague and Paddy Moloney re­leased their al­bum The Wild Dog Rose on Claddagh Records in 2011 to great ac­claim. A pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion of Mon­tague’s sonorous voice reading his lu­mi­nous po­ems and the mu­si­cal forces of The Chief­tans, The Wild Dog Rose was bril­liantly de­scribed by the di­rec­tor John Boor­man as “ir­re­sistible. The poet of loss and love con­soled by the min­strel of de­light.”


The Dock, Car­rick on Shan­non 8.30pm ¤20the­ This is a mag­i­cal op­por­tu­nity to catch sit­ters is ex­ten­sive: Sea­mus Heaney, Michael Longley, Queen El­iz­a­beth ... He has even given Brad Pitt paint­ing lessons – and painted him twice. One of th­ese, in the Smith­so­nian Na­tional Por­trait Gallery, was no­ticed by Time magazine, which com­mis­sioned him to paint An­gela Merkel for their Per­son of the Year cover in 2015.

For Jerusalem he painted por­traits of 12 in­di­vid­u­als who rep­re­sent the di­ver­sity of the city’s history and present. And Silent Tes­ti­mony is com­posed of a series of 18 por­traits of peo­ple whose lives were touched, in­deli­bly, by the Trou­bles. His im­ages are close to pho­to­graphic but in­cor­po­rate a con­spic­u­ous painterly flour­ish, which im­bues them with an en­hanced live­li­ness. three re­mark­able mu­si­cians at the top of their game. Ac­cor­dion player O’Con­nor is a master both of com­po­si­tion and of fiery, pre­ci­sion-en­gi­neered play­ing, that’s still full of heart. His tune The Road West is a match for any­thing writ­ten in the tra­di­tional or clas­si­cal canon any­where. Lunny is a quiet, unas­sum­ing re­nais­sance man of mu­sic whose bouzouki play­ing is the foun­da­tion on which so many sem­i­nal bands base their sounds, and Con­way plays her fid­dle with a fi­nesse and hunger for ex­plo­ration that guar­an­tees a dis­tinc­tive per­for­mance every night. Un­miss­able.


Ion­adCultúrtha,Bal­lyvour­ney8.30pm ¤25ion­ad­cul­ Ca­herlis­trane singer re­turns to Cul Aodha with his band, fea­tur­ing Pat

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