LISTEN. Can you hear the sound of silence? Motorway traffic, ring tones, wind turbines, muzak or, much worse, the sounds of riots and gunfire means that this not-so-merry-go-round planet is becoming more and more crazed and noisy.
Artist Diana Copperwhite lives, like the rest of us, in this fast, flashy and flashing neon-lit, zappy world with its 24/7 news channels, tweets, blogs, and one billion in-your-face Facebook users.
Spending more and more time staring at a screen and compulsive email checking could wreck our heads and fry our brains. Wasn't the computer meant to make life simpler, easier? It used to be New York; now it's planet earth that never sleeps. Copperwhite's paintings respond brilliantly to this wired-to-sound state.
Think back 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. Think back 100 years and we realise how far we've come, hurtling and zooming along on information highway. And destination overload is looming. The day when we'll all be branded with a barcode is nigh. In painting, the portrait will always be with us. We walking, talking, thinking, feeling, imagining creatures haven't changed at all and we've changed utterly. How different is portrait painting now? Well, meet Copperwhite's Past-Forward. This is it. This is the portraiture of now.
A blanked-out, blurred face is abuzz. This creature could be wired to a network that captures all the energies whirring beneath the skull, and looks as if it's processing everything that is flowing through its frazzled head. The distinctive candy colours – pinks, orange, cafe-au-lait, pistachio green – are never girly. The composition has too much strength and force for that.
A double outline, halo-like, surrounding the block head, holds in and contains an exploding headspace. This is not a portrait of facial expressions but a portrait of a state of mind, a 21st-Century one. The title, Past-Forward, looks back, looks ahead and Copperwhite captures this in-between state.
Born in Limerick in 1969, Copperwhite, now based in Dublin, has work hanging in the US, Australia and Europe. She paints a ghostly yet charged psychological state (one of her works is called Your Friends Are Electric) and as an artist she's tuned in to the way we live now. Zap!
Copperwhite showed at the 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, W 25th St, New York, last October and will show new work at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Chancery Lane, Dublin 8, next June.