The paintings represent a view of modern Belfast/N Ireland which attempts to be separate from any preconceived religious or sectarian factions. The pieces are intended to be satirical and non political, despite the subject matter being the images of politicians.
The subjects have been taken from their offices, public meetings and press conferences, striped from their public personas and portrayed in an honest and vulnerable state of coitus.
Studio 11, Belfast
Artists: Aaron Hughes, Daniel Berry, Andrew Train, Gareth Martin
So it is….
An Artists response to the contemporary culture of Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is changing. In the past year the province has watched whilst the south of Ireland has become the first Nation to vote independently on same sex marriage. This vote not only signals the onset of the LGBT community having an equal right to marry who they want but also signals a sort of paradigm shift in public opinion.
But still in the North we watch through our fingers at a generation who still hold on to the past.
In the past year people watched in disbelief whilst a well known preacher was quoted as saying that ‘ISIS and homosexuals are God’s punishment on Europe’. A similar preacher described an entire religion as Satanic.
In our archaic laws on abortion women are still not totally in control of their bodies. Instead that power is held by men in robes and those who refer to carbon dating as a ‘Satanic trick’. New terms have been accepted into our lexicon like ‘fleg’ and ‘gay cake’. Both terms represent opposing ends of this cultural shift, the ‘fleg’ representing the conflict of the past whilst the argument over the ‘gay cake’ representing the post conflict sentiments of the present.
Feeling a sense of underrepresentation a group of artists have responded to some these changes in Zeitgeist feeling ‘caught in the middle’ They represent a growing minority who are mostly young, liberal, generally not religious or have moderate beliefs, do not pander to a particular religious/cultural factions one sided ideology and/or admit that each side is as bad as the other.
Through this exhibition they have presented artwork based on their own experiences of NI in a contemporary and typically sardonic fashion
A collection of my first paintings in the series intended for exhibition. It is my intention to create a piece of art that represents my view of modern Belfast/N Ireland without pandering to any preconceived religious or sectarian factions. The paintings are intended to be satirical and anti-political art despite the subject matter being the images of politicians. I am striving to make what could be deemed as anti-political political art.
The use of watercolour stemmed from the work of Annie Kevans and her series Boys, Gods and Aliens and Girls. Kevans works from acrylic presenting her work as kitsch and childlike, the viewer getting to see some of the most famous and infamous faces in the world as young children. I wanted to utilise a similar method in depicting local politicians, many of whom have been active since the pre 97 conflict in Northern Ireland. These politicians are amongst the last relics of the troubles and are believed by many to be one of the reasons why the religious divide still continues so I wanted to paint them in bright childlike tones shades and colours, using watercolour in direct opposition oil which is normally used in political portraits. The background was intended to be blank, with the odd paint splatter, but no block colours, i thought it was reminiscent of family portraits, those artificial blank background shots of families posing for pictures meant to be adorned on the walls of their living rooms.
The idea to paint these local politicians mid coitus was by chance, by pausing an online video of a political debate which made the figure pull a face, frozen in mid conversation. It took months for me to actually come round to developing the idea and involves trawling through hours of interviews, debates and speeches, pausing and unpausing in order to find the best images to be used, and reappropriated as the politician in questions ‘sex face’.
I have observed how Annie Kevans has displayed her paintings and would prefer to group them in either rows displayed around the room however large windows mean there would be gaps in the line of paintings. I could display in party groupings but this may present issues relating to political preference, I may need to ensure all groups have equal amounts of portraits to ensure a ‘visual neutrality’
Another idea was to have less organisation, I had pondered a ‘criminal investigation board’ but it takes away from the satirical aspect, or maybe adds to much to it? it would be confusing for the viewer I imagine people asking me ‘Ok so your implying the politicians are criminals but why are they all taken of them having an orgasm?
Whatever my answer would have been it wouldn’t have been great.
The grouping could be more chaotic and still be aesthetically pleasing but I intend mount the portraits with their names and official titles so I think some organisation is necessary.
The Oval is the stadium of one of Belfast’s football teams, Glentoran and is situated near where i grew up in East Belfast. My Dada and Grandpa both supported the team, I went to a few games my self. One thing I always remembered was a large sign over the east side of the stadium that simply stated ‘Jesus’. It was jokingly suggested that Jesus was always watching and supporting the team. The sign although very recently moved was a reminder of the deep rooted relationship between the church and the people of East Belfast. The fire and brimstone teachings of Rev Ian Paisley and his cohorts where infamous for their support for Unionism and their hatred of Nationalism and Republicanism, these sympathies were stronger within those who visited the Oval stadium in the working class area the stadium resided in.
I thought the sign perfectly encapsulated Belfast, east in particular because of these sentiments, it was decision made in order to move towards creating something more personal, actually more to do with my dad, grandpa and great grandpa, three generations who visited the stadium to support Glentoran, my dad started to break the tradition going less and less as the quality of the league in general dissipated.
This is the second work Ive done based on Belfast, East Belfast specifically. it shows the front of the Alliance Party’s office in East Belfas, a few metres from where I lived. The Building had continuous protests and some violent attacks involving ‘traditional’ petrol bombing. In Northern Ireland Alliance are the only Party that don’t pander to a specific religion and despite what individual opinion is, they are the most neutral and potentially the most liberal party. After they voted agains keeping Union Jack on the top of city hall they became subject to these attacks, the picture above is taken from a combination of photographs before and after the attack, its confusing to look at and I think will need more of an explanation but I think it shows promise.
After some consideration I have continued the Rorschach styled paintings but with a focus on Belfast. the main thing I wanted to avoid was the typical conflict of the past, I feel it is no longer relevant today, don’t get me wrong it all still goes on, the rioting, protesting but I want to make a more personal series of work. The above i my first attempt, its technically not finished but I decided just to leave it as it is i don’t want to make it particularly neat or finished looking. this piece is part of a Diptych (the other painting isn’t finished yet) the only suggestion of any sort of conflict is the colours, the red, white and blue. The ‘tribal colours’ of unionism, prevalent in East Belfast were I grew up. This picture I think is a bit too ambiguous ill keep going with more and see were I end up.