Review Of Sirens Exhibition By Olive O'Callaghan
28th June 2002
The new exhibition Sirens by Dundalk-born artist Olive O'Callaghan at Joan Clancy Gallery in Ring is well worth a visit.
She is in her late twenties and there is a fresh and luminous look to her larger canvases that reflects new influences. Her
work in oils on canvas has the paint scraped back so closely that the canvas barely seems to have paint on it yet out of that
erased look, layers of images suggest themselves in tones of light. In places, she uses a dotted style like Seurat's
pointillism or chromo-luminarism as his contemporaries in the late 1880's called it. Add to this the television /video
imagery of colour pixels and the Variegated lozenges of Chuck Close's photo-realism and you have new work that distils these
theories and stands on its own --making her vision as a continuity of art-making.
O'Callaghan's four large canvases are the heart and eyes of this exhibition. Barcelona Beach reminded me straight away of the
Jim Webb song McArthur Park --melting in the dark-- as out of a very blue background images of boys, suggestions of faces
emerge and other features disintegrate into light. As this is an upstairs gallery, a balcony opens out onto Helvick Harbour
and as the tide receded back over the rows of oyster beds, you could see beds further out shimmering under the surface. A
case of nature imitating art? The largest canvas 180 x 180 cm Diamond Loves Another Woman And Rita Knows has a woman whose
face is dissolving into dumb blankness or bland banality. In tones of green, lilac, brown and purple, she sits in her
underwear looking into a small hand mirror while the bulk of the painting is taken up with a very theatrical dressing table
mirror with a row of bulbs.
The setting is like a shrine. Bedroom Eyes has the same suggestions of faces in green, lemon, yellow and cream with a leopard
style stipple across the canvas and a series of eyes look out perhaps luring you into the painting. Too Soon To Love features
two dehumanised girls in front of a window but the bulk of the canvas is a large expanse of scraped dry colour work that
suggests the anonymity of life.
The exhibition runs until July 6th. Open daily 11 to 6. Ring the gallery at 086-8134597 for additional directions. Visit the
Joan Clancy Gallery, visit the area and make an afternoon of it.