Built in the early 18th Century for Sir Henry King MP and his wife Isabella, King House in Boyle Co. Roscommon is now home to the Boyle Civic Collection of Contemporary Irish Art, and many of the collection’s 200 works are on permanent display in the house (1). Now as part of the Roscommon Arts Centre ‘offsite’ initiative, an installation by artist Vanessa Donoso López can also be seen here. Entitled ‘A Painful Excess of Pleasure’ (2013), the Greenhouse, originally shown at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery amidst the artist’s stunning watercolours, now sits alone in the magnificent Long Gallery at King House. The structure hosting a plethora of glass vitrines, cabinets and paper cut-outs in the shape of plants and flowers. The title, ‘A Painful Excess of Pleasure’ taken from the writing’s of Jacques Lacan on ‘Jouissance’ (deliberately untranslated by Lacan); a notion relating to one’s need for transgression, moving beyond pleasure into pain. And in many ways this can be pushed further toward the idea of Sigmund Freud’s ‘Death Drive’:
“The hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state” (2).
Here, what is assumed to be a fertile environment has somehow become petrified; paper cut-outs imply the organic, and yet these are things that cannot grow. The use of bell jars and vitrines all creating a soundless space of self-exploration. Vanessa Donoso López’ work deals with a confluence of cultural and philosophical influences and the work could suggest a type of memorial, the items on-show allowing the visitor into a shared intimacy. In many cases this type of subjectivity fails within the gallery space, yet here in the atmosphere at King House it works perfectly.
‘Painful Excess of Pleasure’ by Vanessa Donoso López is curated by Linda Shevlin and can be seen at King House, Boyle, Co. Roscommon until September 13th.
- Sigmund Freud, “The Ego and the Id”, in On Metapsychology (Middlesex, 1987), p. 380.