Featured in this year’s FUTURES at The RHA, is the impressive grouping of artists Adam Gibney, Aoibheann Greenan, Shane McCarthy and Helen G. Blake. The works shown are singular and theoretically complex (as well as visually impressive). This year’s iteration also sees a more cohesive curatorial outlook, which possibly reflects a trend in contemporary practice, or may simply be a deliberate choice on behalf of the curators. The amount of work featured is also greatly reduced; there are four artist’s work on show, compared with eight in 2013. All in, these factors, as well as the talent of the artists shown, makes for an exceptionally memorable FUTURES.

Introduction to Aoibheann Greenan‘s work comes by way of a feathered warrior (face-unseen) holding what appears to be a Gaian symbol (the environment and its inhabitants are one cellular whole). The centre, of what is a complex arrangement of works, is a large straw-roofed hut, filled with convoluted luminous bongs dripping in neon green paint; there are also some fuzzy red cushions to sit on. Backing on to this, is what I would describe as a ‘rave shelter’. A cobbled together shed covered in black plastic bags and replete with the non-stop throb of a techno background track. Greenan’s work transects music and art; the she has an evolving collaboration with the band LotusEater, (they recently performed at Project Arts Centre adorned with, and surrounded by, the artist’s work). Greenan appears to have a voracious disregard for artistic trends; which is always delightful. The work ebbs into, an out of, what I would describe as a type of ‘psychedelic shamanism’ and rave culture. Shane McCarthy‘s neons have moved out of 3-dimensional actuality and into the space of video; both as a sculptural investigation, as well as a historical exposition on the subject. Using advanced computer programming, McCarthy manipulates a digitised neon sign, turning it slowly from coloured outline, into glass. If the monitor were not (obviously) present, one would think you were looking at a regular neon. McCarthy’s projects make use of complex overlays containing several narratives – two here include a discussion on when certain types of calligraphic signage are used, and, an explanation of Fourier Analysis. The side of the large screen projection (set just off-frame) appears as an arbitrary bright pink stripe serving to remind the viewer that this is in-fact a sculptural work, heavily manipulated by the artist.

Adam Gibney‘s multi-speaker arrangement, merges neon, sound and sculpture. The work is a very-well composed sculpture, irrespective of the convolutions attached to it. Each lobe is interconnected by a large tendril that loops between them. The static nature of the sculpture is deflected by the graded use of light and sound, both controlled and amplified by viewer interaction. The lights recessed into each lobe emit a controlled strobe when approached, and the motion-sensitive speakers begin to resonate. This manipulation of light, sound and viewer, is something Gibney does exceptionally well, and the viewer is suitably forced into circumambulating the entire work. Finally, Helen G. Blake‘s paintings contain concentric lines, altered in their depth by deep bends, curves and blocks. Interestingly the works have a certain Op Art intricacy whilst retaining an organic composition; as if trying to arrange a transubstantiative interlude. They are regular in their patternation, but not rigidly so. The works use concentric lines to open up and compress the field of view, scattering focal points throughout the work, providing a complexity of possible viewer positions.

The exhibition’s totality examines modern culture, as well as decisive advents in the history of humanity that have shaped the course of contemporary art today. Advertising, symbology, occultism, psychedelia, rave culture, shamanism and Pagan art all occlude the subjective individual here, allowing for one to take part in a community ‘right of passage’ involving a host of influences relevant for the art of today.

Aoibneann Greenan, Mushroom Fountain, 2014, Pencil and acrylic on paper, 46 x 64 cm, Image courtesy of the artist.

Aoibneann Greenan, Mushroom Fountain, 2014, Pencil and acrylic on paper, 46 x 64 cm, Image courtesy of the artist.

FUTURES14 is on-show at The RHA Gallery, Dublin until December 14th. www.rhagallery.ie

Main image (top): Helen G. Blake, Terre Green, Ultramarine; green earth beyond the sea (2014),


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