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.