‘More is More’ by Catherine Ryan at the Upstairs Gallery, Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, May 2014.
Review by Darren Caffrey
Sometimes art is interesting because people make it. Of course people do a great many things, not all of them interesting. The maker invests their own interest and sometimes this can be considered interesting by another. The way to make this carry over to another might be a feeling or an idea. The possibility of which exists to produce what we understand of their work. This is the possibility of art and it can happen anywhere.
For the month of May a small opensubmission gallery space was host to the painted works of Catherine Ryan. Around 12 or so canvases displaying their own unique assemblage present in their making a world not so dissimilar to the impressionists of the early 1900’s.
As tokens of life they each omit a certain fracture of the way things are. Art is not simply sticking things to things and life is not made up only of detritus from the living organism of the city. Other things occur which we must make sense of, before we ever make the call of rubbish or gold.
In the hands of Catherine everything is rubbish. For her, ideas and feelings connect as colours do, supplementing the spark of her own interest. Between such things as a plastic crocodile and a piece of a phone keypad the application of paint leaves its mark and bridges the overall picture into a matrix of various parts. This show is titled ‘More is More’ and each canvas reveals a grouping of things alike and colours complimentary and lines and marks set as the weave for which each thing is poised.
Illuminati City (It’s Okay Baby), with its silvers, greens and blues appears as an oasis of sorts, a desert city perhaps, where people who have only the bare essentials must search and scrub up whatever is around. Amongst this intricate makeup a clearing reveals a solitary figure who stands as silhouette, probably looking for the way out.
Given the humility of the setting and the works themselves it may be surprising to find so much critique of capitalism. On the surface of each canvas, the plastics of consumer goods have been glued down and traced with the marks of life reworked. It is in this very interest that she has taken that we can see the value of doing. In their communication the application is rough and informal but in spite of the low material value all of these works take on the politics of the whole in a way that most artists are afraid to challenge.
The disease of waste is a protrusion from the very form of each and every product of the commercial market and this work in this place is no different, Catherine has simply been decent enough to present the waste as a possibility also. For her the canvas is the body and while the body is the form of the work, there are in all instances a number of worrying growths reimagined as broken toys, a loop of phone cord and pieces of mirror. The confrontation of life with life produces of course art, in some other world we are lost only to waste.
‘More is More’ by Catherine Ryan was at the Upstairs Gallery, Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, May 2014.
photographs by Darren Caffrey