Eithne Jordan RHA, Street 15 November – 21 December

Houses. Bland – faceless, uninhabited – yet showing signs of life. Is it them or us we are looking at here? And yet in the maelstrom of reflexive imagery we loose the sense of space occupied by each house. They stand detached; oddities in the vast encampment of the RHA. The work, though representational never really represents; it has a negating effect on that which it represents adding a fakeness to it. Which is unusual considering Jordan often works from photography. The paint application is thin and measured, much of the work is immediate, Jordan’s skill with a brush apparent. Yet it is her subject matter that – true to form – perplexes. The narrative here is definitely anti-narrative: don’t read anything into these paintings for they are just paintings and, though representational, her work speaks to a modernist sensibility. The hilarious thing is that it is now extremely odd to see a showing of paintings in a gallery such as this – the disenfranchisement of the painting being more and more noticeable in museums throughout the world. Most architects seemingly are at cross-purposes to working artists. Traditional forms of art are now looking for a new home and with that comes the fear and excitement that I am sure was first felt when the gallery became defacto. The artist here is giving the RHA what it thought it wanted – a grand painting show, a show akin in scale and grandeur to that of the fellows themselves. And yet what has she actually given them – a view of 1930s council houses and flats, all esoteric in their unique blandness. Jordan has imbued each with a certain misplaced sophisticated deportment, a sheen one normally associates with the regal town houses of Georgian Dublin. As the houses are hung around the walls – large in scale and unadorned, one feels as if one is walking through any estate in Dublin. The circularity of it, the endlessness of it seems at odds with the regimentality of the rectangular space of the RHA. It is the human space moving – uninvited, into the space of the gallery. The scale of Jordan’s show is impressive, the extensive monotony of the images extends to the viewer and half way through the tour one loses interest. Nothing much changes in each work – the season shifts, still no one appears, lights move location and yet the rigid stillness the artist has imposed on each work makes for a stultifying endeavour. Oddly enough this interested me hugely. The works must have been painted within a short time of each other – which makes the sheer determination of the artist staggering – for however boring it is walking amongst them, it must have been worse painting them. The grandeur of scale may be a nod to the grandiose nature of the surroundings, yet even a galaxy of such works in a space such as this gets lost. This raises the question. Are paintings destined to be forgotten simply because we are building spaces too big to house them? It makes me think that in a few years time paintings will become the 1930s house – a timepiece of a certain era destroyed through renovation.

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