An exhibition of paintings by Matthew Mitchell
18th May – 6th July Opening reception 7.30pm Friday 17th May
This new work from artist Matthew Mitchell takes the geology of Co Clare as both its material and as its starting point, with the artist using clay and stone from the Burren to execute spare, abstracted paintings.
The Burren is a Glacio- Karst landscape. Its geological memory is scratched and etched onto the grey limestone, the marks and ridges serving as ancient natural hieroglyphics that chronicle its weathered journey over time.
It has often been described as lunar, and this is prescient. A glimpse skyward at twilight will reveal an aerial satellite making its steady journey across the night sky, or the light of a radio mast flickering in the distance. This is a reminder that the Burren sits in another less tangible landscape, one whose topology and cartography can be both literally and metaphorically hidden.
This is the landscape of the global digital age, the Info-sphere of unseen signals and grids and coordinates. The proliferation of the internet and globalisation has profoundly altered how we perceive and experience our natural environment. As our material environment constantly shifts and changes, so does our perception of it.
The work is an attempt to find a visual language for this duality between our necessarily abstracted experience of place and being in the new digital landscape, and our perception of place and being in relation to the more tangible primeval geological past. It is an attempt to use the visual lexicon of the past to articulate and chronicle our experience of the transient, often invisible now. This interplay of past and present place and time exists in the intermingling organic and inorganic forms on the canvas, in the physical act of making the work and in the perceived embodied experience of what is made. The processes used in the studio echo the naturally occurring processes of concealment and revelation in the physical act of erosion in the natural environment.
Organic material such as clay is collected from the coast or a river bed and is applied in layers, and then weathered over time. The act of construction in the layering and the deconstruction by dissolving and sanding, and the transformational potential of the material, enables the observed materiality of the landscape to be embodied in the tactile surface of the piece.
At the same time, the use of the reflective qualities of enamel on textured coloured surfaces allows forms to appear and disappear, their visual reality in time shifting and impermanent. The inorganic materiality of the enamel and its reflective quality allows it to be part of the whole, but with a different separate narrative.
In many ways this describes our new, rapidly evolving natural environment and where we locate ourselves in relation to it.
For more information please contact:
Anne Mullee, Curator
The Courthouse Gallery & Studios, Parliament Street, Ennistymon, Co Clare V95 D791
+353 (0)65 707 1630