Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin 28th September – 14th November

Nina Canell, Tendrils. Nina Canell’s work seems to be in transition – her sculptures are shedding their materiality and now appear so delicate that at times one can fail to see them. So delicate that one hangs effortlessly from the roof of the Douglas Hyde. One only notices this work when it spirals in the gentle breeze catching the light as it moves. Wires seem overly cumbersome now. Copper strands emerge from their rubber sheaths and a neon glow is emitted from creviced concrete as if new ground is being broken. Canell seems set here to emancipate herself from her own practice. Of course one can also propose the exposed nerve – unsheathed and raw. This is an understandable state for an artist who’s beautiful original installations have provided fodder for endless derivative practice; one finds it hard to enter a gallery now without tripping over a bucket and wire. Perhaps this exposure means one can feel more, and yet you take with it the good and the bad. The imposing wooden sculpture in the middle of the expansive concrete floor of DHG floor assumes a totemic stance and demonstrates well the artist’s capacity for stolidity and form. Against this base a fragility is exposed, a lone copper wire juts unlikely from the top. The foundation is sculpture; always solid, always constant; yet this is me and where I am heading. This process of exposure and censure is humanistic and well done, leaving the viewer at once sentimental for previous incarnations and hopeful of what’s to come. Fergus Feehily, The Paradise [37]

Much of the work of Fergus Feehily in Gallery 2 speaks to the portrait and yet a face never actually appears. The small photographs of – what I am assuming are family portraits, are finely and fastidiously covered by fabric and paper; each one making sure to leave a small reveal, a nod to the fact that a life was here and is now gone. A paraenesis for the soul. Feehily has drawn upon work previously shown at DHG. This work is an iteration of ‘The Paradise’ series; a series that previously included Nina Canell. Now in its 37th cycle one feels ‘The Paradise’ may indeed keep going until we reach 108*and this is no bad thing considering the standard of work we have seen here. The Hindu view of Paradise is the liberation of the soul from a cycle of births and deaths through repeated reincarnations. Feehily seems to have drawn upon this idea in a work that can only be described as a visual lament. The work sits well within the smaller of the two galleries, the dimensions of which are similar to those of a home. The entire installation does in-fact speak of the wake – or a side chapel; although this connotation may not sit well with the artist. The minimal anti-theistic mannerism that Feehily has developed over the years gives a nod to spirituality in art rather than doctrine. And yet ritual exists here. This process echoes the Victorian ritual of covering a mirror when someone in the house has passed-away. The delicacy in which each image is covered and hung – tiny pins ‘mount’ each card as if they were too precious to touch, are mounted with love. The glimpse that occurs through the timed mechanism of the projector shows a life in retrospect. A machine whose purpose is to embody ‘deterritorialization’ as an experiential process1. Feehily provides us with a glimpse into the nostalgic haze of remembrance full of flowers and pattern, whiteness and colour. Both artists appear to be re-assessing previous work, examining their own practice from within. Each exhibition abuts beautifully; one a transitioning prose, the other a poetic ending. *The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern religions and traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and connected yoga and dharma based practices. The individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity). 108 represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being (seemingly paradoxically) simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite. 1. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, University of Minnesota Press; 1 edition (December 21, 1987)

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