Wednesday 23 May 2018

What Lies Beneath: Primed Vision I by Stephanie Deady

Primed Vision I by Stephanie Deady, Oil on canvas, Courtesy Kevin Kavanagh Gallery

Primed Vision I by Stephanie Deady
Primed Vision I by Stephanie Deady

Niall MacMonagle

On joining the Marine Corps boot camp, J.D. Vance, in his memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, tells us "You're not allowed to say 'I' because you're taught to mistrust your own individuality". But artist Stephanie Deady, the youngest of 10, and "coming from a family of big personalities", knows that "you have to be an individual to be an artist".

Growing up in Kilmallock, the plan was to study fashion at Limerick School of Art and Design but she soon discovered that "fashion is fast, it's not where my personality is".

An LSAD installation project she created using "a green lampshade and a red table from my bedroom, a piece of purple wood, some crimson silky fabric" was a turning point. She realised that "art is all about looking, choosing, composing" and that "painting suited me".

For Deady, this impulse to make art is prompted by "everything around me - rooms, rooftops, shapes, spaces, nothing obvious".

Her first solo show includes seven small paintings of a friend's kitchen at night, with its very ordinary Formica cupboards, dishes in the sink, an uncurtained window. From another sequence, Primed Vision, this uncluttered, elegant, subtle painting is of a former studio in Rathmines. A quiet space: "My work is calm and I want it to be calm for others."

A primed canvas, an all-white surface layer, to begin. Then oil paint, with liquin to dry faster, creates "a matt, powdery effect". And though the overall effect is understated, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson red, Prussian Blue, Spectrum Orange have been mixed with Titanium White to create a "mustardy yellow, pinky, lemony effect".

The steel shutters, the barred door are muted. A green EXIT sign she omitted. The pale blue floor tiles are warped.

Influences? Deady names Rachel Marum, Hazel Egan, Martina Gleeson (who graduated with her in 2014) Diana Copperwhite, Geraldine O'Neill and Bessel van der Kolk's book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Nothing traumatic about Deady, who says "I observe, I think," and who believes that "If you can be alone and be yourself it is a good thing, the best thing."

Primed Vision, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, until February 10.

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