Monday 21 October 2019

What Lies Beneath: Marlay After the Festival I by Joe Dunne

Marlay After the Festival I by Joe Dunne, RHA Watercolour on Arches handmade paper 100pc cotton. Courtesy of the artist and The Molesworth Gallery

Marlay After the Festival I by Joe Dunne
Marlay After the Festival I by Joe Dunne

Niall MacMonagle

Last July it was The Longitude Festival in Marlay Park, tonight Queen and Adam Lambert, The Boomtown Rats and The Darkness will rock you at the same venue (see story below). Artist Joe Dunne will stay home but the music will thrum and boom its way to his back garden. "Hopefully, I'll spot some familiar tunes."

The clean-up from these mid-summer concerts "is excellent, takes a couple of weeks and geometric shapes of light-starved grass emerge where the stage, etc, once stood". This is the scene that catches the artist's eye, the scene he captures in this exquisitely elegant watercolour inspired by traces of Longitude 2017.

Using soft-haired brushes Nos. 4, 5, 6, 8, 12 and 24, Dunne brings grassy expanse, foliage, cloudy sky to life. The lower half could belong to an abstract work; the top section features "the large open field adjacent to Marlay House which you can see in the background". The stream is hidden, but its route is there as is the grassy bridge. Over all a moody sky creates what we'd call, weather-wise, 'a close day'.

Dunne often walks in this "beautiful, well-tended place" and he became "interested in views of my immediate suburban surroundings" in the mid 1990s. Angled images of gable ends, windows, roofs led to his exploration of "a more abstracted style" but portraits have also been important. He was commissioned to do a portrait of President Mary McAleese, and in the current RHA Annual Exhibition there's a Joe Dunne portrait of his family which "began as a study of my daughter reading from a laptop and grew from there".

Dunne's new show is called Bruach, meaning 'brink' or 'in between', his artist daughter Cara's suggestion, and suits "the environment on the outskirts of Dublin which stimulated pieces representational and abstract, the 'brink' found in his Mayo coastal paintings".

Dunne is interested in "the poetics of painting" and, though the song is ended, the gig is over, a melody lingers on and on in this lyrical watercolour.

'Bruach' is at The Molesworth Gallery until Wednesday. www.joedunne.net www.instagram.com/joedunneart/.

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