Wednesday 16 October 2019

What Lies Beneath: like light and cloud shadows, by Lee Welch

like light and cloud shadows by Lee Welch

Acrylic on polyester

like light and cloud shadows, by Lee Welch
like light and cloud shadows, by Lee Welch

Niall MacMonagle

Lee Welch sums up his career to date as "equal parts meandering and meticulous". The meandering meant Kentucky-born Welch moving to Massachusetts, aged 12; to San Francisco at 19, meeting his artist wife from Cork; and a move to Dublin aged 26 where he studied at NCAD, then to the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam; then back to Dublin at age 33 - and he now "splits" his time: between Dublin and Cork.

About his boyhood, his response is cryptic: "The yawn is a mysterious phenomenon; compounding the mystery is the odd way in which the contagious power of yawning is largely unconscious. We can see someone yawn, yearn to replicate the action ourselves, and do it, without thinking about it."

However, he does add that "I'm nor sure I knew about art in Kentucky" but "my mother had a talent for drawing".

Welch has worked in sculpture, video, photography, audio, texts, performance but "I have returned to how I began, that is painting. It seemed at the time the most radical thing. More than anything, it was about removing static from my life, pulling focus."

For Welch, painting "consolidates things" and has something to do with his recently becoming a father. "Painting evokes a softer, quieter response, an emotive reaction."

Time was when he would spend €300 on his fetish for motorcycle wheels, intending it to become part of an art work. He'd have it in his studio - and eventually throw it out.

This work like light and cloud shadows, (that final comma - an intrinsic part of the title - suggests something on-going) was made in 2018 and finished in one session, as was every other painting in his latest show.

Though painted over four weeks they were part of his thinking for over a year. The surface was primed but he preferred to paint on the untreated side and "this painting is, in many ways, the cornerstone of the show and a homage to Gabriele Munter's Girl with a Red Ribbon in the National Gallery - although in my painting there's an ominous form that obstructs the face, a hand protrudes from a yellow blouse."

Lee Welch and Paul Hallahan, a two-man show at dlrLexicon, Dun Laoghaire, will travel to Cork, Waterford, Belfast. Exhibition Learning Programme: www.dlrcoco.ie/arts

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