Lim­er­ick-based artist Gerry Davis re-imag­ines his own wed­ding with a magic re­al­ist twist

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


Wed­ding Car is a paint­ing by Gerry Davis.


Davis is in many re­spects a straight­for­ward rep­re­sen­ta­tional painter. His paint­ings fea­ture read­ily un­der­stand­able images of the world around him. How­ever, his tem­per­a­ment, al­lied to his con­sid­er­able nat­u­ral fa­cil­ity, had the ef­fect of mak­ing him ques­tion what he de­picts and why. Rather than fol­low­ing the line of least re­sis­tance and ad­her­ing to pic­to­rial con­ven­tions, he is sus­pi­cious of con­ven­tion, un­easy about the over­lap be­tween paint­ing and im­age. Wed­ding Car makes sense in that ev­ery el­e­ment is eas­ily leg­i­ble, vis­ually, but it is also a lit­tle odd. It im­plies a sub­stan­tial back-story but does lit­tle – apart per­haps from the ti­tle clue – to elab­o­rate it.

Where can I see it?

Wed­ding Car is in­cluded in Pro­ces­sion, Davis’s solo ex­hi­bi­tion of new work at the Gal­way Arts Cen­tre, (47 Do­minick St, Gal­way, un­til Fe­bru­ary 8th,

Is it a typ­i­cal work by the artist?

Typ­i­cal up to a point given that it does fea­ture some re­cent devel­op­ments in his work, but then he is still rel­a­tively young – he was born in Cahir, Co Tipperary, in 1985. He stud­ied at the Lim­er­ick School of Art and De­sign (LSAD) and was a founder mem­ber of Wick­ham St Stu­dios there. In 2016, he won the Hen­nessy Por­trait Prize – now the Zurich Por­trait Prize – at the Na­tional Gallery of Ire­land (NGI). His prize com­mis­sion, a por­trait of Kilkenny hurler Henry Sh­ef­flin, now hangs in the NGI as part of the por­trait col­lec­tion.

He has re­marked that, as far back as sec­ondary school, he was in­ter­ested in dig­i­tally ma­nip­u­lat­ing images to pro­duce sur­real ef­fects. So it was sort of log­i­cal for him to go on to study soft­ware de­vel­op­ment at Lim­er­ick In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy. He had the cool­ness of nerve, when he re­alised he’d made a mis­take, to quit and take a port­fo­lio course that won him a place at LSAD.

There, what im­pressed him about paint­ing was the phys­i­cal­ity of the medium, as op­posed to the four-piece. Fid­dle player and singer Pax Ó Faoláin joins bouzouki player, pi­anist and singer Mar­dara Ó Faoláin, along with flute and whis­tle player Iar­laith Mac Gab­hann and con­certina player Colm McGonigle. Nuadán will per­form mu­sic from their al­bum, Lá Laindí Lugha. vir­tual, im­ma­te­rial na­ture of dig­i­tal im­agery. In time he moved to­wards what he terms doc­u­men­ta­tion paint­ing. In terms of doc­u­men­ta­tion, he has most no­tably made a se­ries of stu­dio paint­ings, ac­cu­rate, dead­pan rep­re­sen­ta­tions of his im­me­di­ate work­ing en­vi­ron­ments. There’s a real flicker of con­nec­tion here with other con­tem­po­rary rep­re­sen­ta­tional Ir­ish painters in­clud­ing Kevin Cos­grove, Mairead O’hEocha, Stephanie Deady, and Colin Martin.

Davis ex­pressed a sim­i­lar sen­ti­ment about por­trai­ture: it’s doc­u­men­ta­tion in that the sub­ject is a given, you just set about paint­ing it. More re­cently, it is as if he has re­vis­ited his early in­ter­est in ma­nip­u­lated rep­re­sen­ta­tion, via the medium of paint. The re­sult is a species of magic re­al­ism, a re­al­ism that al­lows the sub­jec­tiv­ity of mem­ory, the fan­tasy of dreams, the imag­ined and spec­u­la­tive. There is a doc­u­men­tary as­pect, a sub­stan­tial au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal strand – in­clud­ing in Wed­ding Car. Who knows where this line of de­vel­op­ment will lead him next, but lead him it will as for him the point of paint­ing is wrapped up in the process of paint­ing, never an end re­sult.


NaPíobairí­Uil­leann,Hen­ri­et­taSt, Dublin8pm¤10/¤ The Pipers Club re­con­venes its Notes & Nar­ra­tives se­ries with this lec­ture and recital from renowned Sli­abh Luachra fid­dle player and teacher Cranitch, who will de­liver a lec­ture

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