Friday 17 November 2017

What lies beneath... Vigil

Vigil by Eamon Colman, oil and pigment on canvas, courtesy of Hillsboro Fine Art

Vigil by Eamon Colman
Vigil by Eamon Colman

Niall MacMonagle

Once, in almost every house in Ireland, everyone threw themselves against a kitchen chair and said the Joyful, the Sorrowful or the Glorious Mysteries. Dublin-born artist Eamon Colman, from "a Dublin, non-religious background" never knew the rosary until he went to live in Co Kilkenny 11 years ago where the Rosary is very much alive and hums inside this large, beautiful painting.

In Johnswell, so called because the well there is dedicated to John the Baptist, a pageant is held every six weeks or so. "They'll walk 10 miles, chant the prayers and one man does the call and 400 people respond and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."

He has "no interest in painting a dog, a cat, a figure; I want the imagination to create what is there" so this painting inspired by "a domed shaped well - the blue is for the Virgin Mary" allows the viewer to piece together a response.

A brilliant colourist, Colman wanted to create something that "disturbs the air in a very beautiful way". He wanted to capture "the effervescence of it" and create "tonal difference". It took him four years.

The figure, top right, is "an outsider looking in" - just as the viewer is. Pure pigment is rubbed into the canvas. When the legendary Pearl Paint Art Supply Store on Canal St, NYC (customers included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning) went bust last year, Colman, a dedicated customer, was offered a box of pigments for 500 dollars. The box arrived, the colours surprised him and using poppy, linseed and rapeseed oil his canvases sang. And "I let things drip. I also let the brush go hard and scrape back the paint."

Walking and rewilding are Colman's other passions. "We walk with our feet, our eyes, our emotions".

Where he now lives, he's involved in buying a bit of bog through a crowd funding scheme. He wants to create like most wilders "a nowhere space, for beaver, stoat and pine martin".

As in his art, he's "not creating a product, I'm creating a process" and though "I have an argument with the canvas every time and push, push perspective" his achievement is luminous.

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