Sunday 17 December 2017

What lies beneath.... Homeward by Daniel Lipstein

Homeward by Daniel Lipstein
Homeward by Daniel Lipstein

Niall McMonagle

When Daniel Lipstein, born Tel Aviv, first arrived in Ireland he lived on Dublin's Clanbrasil St and later in a one-room set-up in Phibsboro. "There was nothing there" says Lipstein. But his creative energies allowed him to distance himself from his ordinary, uninspiring surroundings. He adopted a persona, called him Jonathan, a Jonathan who lived in West Cork. This new self knew "the moods and the life of the ocean" and Daniel lived inside his dreaming mind.

For Lipstein his artwork is "a wakeful continuation of this dreamlife".

He read all of Freud in his twenties, was especially impressed by The Interpretation of Dreams, and in his own dream world he sees trees full of fish, full of mushrooms, levitating lovers. In a work entitled Self Portrait with a Tree and a Bathtub, he appears as a sheep.

When he speaks about his work his tone is life-filled and he has never lost that sense of wonder which sustained him as a twenty-four year old in Dublin city. Now at fifty-six, and living in rural Kildare, he dreams while fully awake. His back garden is far from the sea but when he paints that garden the ocean is there.

"What didn't exist before, that is the beginning of art" and the ocean "can be sensed from the sky. You don't hear symphonies in nature" adds Lipstein. "Visual art is not always copied from reality" but it "must be essential, truthful".

Lipstein, an animist, sees a soul presence in everything. In this image, Homeward, there is a wonderful sense of a supernatural power in everything. The four-plate etching, a labour-intensive process, surges with life and movement.

On the left a horse; to the right, fish are heading over land towards a bathtub or ocean. "If you're feeling small it's the bathtub; on a confident day you head towards the ocean." Straddling the diptych, a flock of birds in flight. Land, sea and sky.

"The ocean is where evolution started". Is that Daniel Lipstein's idea of God, of home? "I don't know what is God. My God is much bigger than the ocean." But everywhere he looks, he sees the sea. He can dream, can't he?

Compassion, Meditation at Fishtree, etchings by Daniel Lipstein, Graphic Studio Gallery, 8a Cope St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 runs until 2 May

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