Wednesday 26 June 2019

What Lies Beneath: Wave off Muckross by Darren Nesbitt

Wave off Muckross by Darren Nesbitt, Acrylic on canvas, Courtesy of the artist

Wave off Muckross by Darren Nesbitt
Wave off Muckross by Darren Nesbitt

Niall MacMonagle

Two and a half billion of us are now short-sighted. In hi-tech Seoul, over 95pc of 19 year-old men are myopic. Screens don't help - but we are also spending too much time indoors.

Artist Darren Nesbitt swaps screens for sea whenever possible. "Looking towards the horizon lets us dream of where we can go. There's peace there, adventure, exploration."

Nesbitt studied classical animation at Ballyfermot before computerisation. "Back then it was all paper and pencil."

A storyboard and storyboard revisionist, "I translate the script to pictorial form, turn it into a visual story, panel by panel - and once synced with a soundtrack, revise the storyboard to match the director's vision.

"Digital drawings can not match the tactile texture of paint on canvas or board. You can smudge or scrape it, work thick or thin, make your mark," he says

Yet "both emphasise creativity, composition, colour, light".

His favourite subject - life drawing - captures "muscle and bone, weight and gesture, the potential for movement, folds of flesh".

"That's why waves and sea fascinate me. I love its movement, energy, its transitory, momentary form. My father was at sea for years and I remember him showing me a picture of a tanker he was on going through a hurricane, its sheer violent force was terrifying and impressive at the same time". He's painted the Greystones, Bray and Dalkey coastlines, but the holidays he spent in Donegal, where his grandmother is from, meant Muckross Head peninsula.

At Muckross Head he was captivated by the rocky shore's jagged, horizontal strata, the changing light and local stories about a 24 year-old Dylan Thomas who spent time near there in 1935. In Thomas's words, "[t]en miles from the nearest human being... and as lonely as Christ".

Wave at Muckross took two days in the studio. Using household brushes and scrapers, "acrylic lets me work quickly, maintains my mark making". Glazing adds transparency and depth.

Edgar's comforting line, "Hark, do you hear the sea?" in King Lear, haunted John Keats so intensely that in April 1817 on the Isle of Wight he wrote his sonnet On the Sea: "O ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired/ Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea!" Or the next best thing - see and hear the sea in Wave off Muckross.

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