Solve and Dissolve

  Tony O'Malley Award
A Place For Time
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Details here soon!
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More reviews and exhibition details will be added.


Solve and Dissolve

Irish Times Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Visual Arts - Aidan Dunne

Alan Keane's work in Solve and Dissolve, a two-person show with Nicolas May, lives up to the title. Many of his paintings do seem to occupy a tenuous space between solution and dissolution.

They appear to have come about by a mixture of chance and design, or perhaps chance nudged along a certain direction plus design. Such processes as freezing and thawing, flowing and congealing come to mind in relation to their layered, Rorschach-test patterns of spreading ink stains and blobs and drips of paint.

Some pieces that feature ink as the sole medium are like patches of melted snow, not so much in appearance as in feeling. But more often Keane seems to use ink, then go on to build up paintings with acrylic and sometimes oil, creating beautiful, complex textures and patterns. Everything seems evanescent and mutable, prone to corrosion, obliteration or transformation, with the artist as fully engaged but dispassionate observer and adjuster. The beauty that emerges is rough-hewn and unorthodox. Change and Decay would be a reasonable subtitle for a very good show.


Lead White Gallery, Ballsbridge, Dublin

Featuring work by London based Nicholas May and Alan Keane, winner of the Tony O'Malley award.

The title SOLVE AND DISSOLVE refers to the ongoing process of painting: how an idea changes and how an artwork comes into being, how a constant revisiting of the artwork dissolves previous actions, how new forms are overlayed and developed. The work of these two artists refers to the significant role of forced chance with which they speculate, as well as investigating and deconstructing the liminal conceptual process and physical practice that both artists utilise.

Although these two artists are analogous, they are at the same time very diverse. May is constantly experimenting with materials, including heavy natural materials such as bitumin or resins, or man-made materials like plastic, fibre-glass, silicone, metal sealants and acrylic cements. Keane, on the other hand, uses oil, ink, and acrylic on canvas and paper. He also utilises found materials like school desks and drawers. The concept behind "Solve and Dissolve" is illustrated strongly in Keane's ''Painting Logbooks'' 97/03 where the pages show a constant covering and reworking of the image. His ideas stem from travel and observations from the natural world and experience of everyday life.

Nicholas May
Born in Limavady in County Derry in 1962, and reared in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, but now long resident in London, Nicholas May first studied art at Bath Academy, and later received his MA at Goldsmith's College where he worked alongside many of the generation of English artists now collectively known as the "YBA"s (Young British Artists). His work is predominantly abstract, and unashamedly retinal. It tends to produce various optical and perceptual-sometimes almost disorienting-effects on the eye; such as illusions of depth and distance or, almost an abstract photorealism, which fetches up an orbital view of a dead, coloured planet. The first exhibition in Dublin of Nicholas May since exhibiting at the RHA in 1987. Since then May has shown widely both in the UK and internationally, including the seminal exhibition on Irish artists working in England, "0044;" the London galleries, 291 Gallery, Victoria Miro Gallery, and the South London Art Gallery.

Alan Keane
Born in 1972, Keane is one of Ireland's foremost young artists. In 2002 he was awarded the Tony O'Malley travel award, given to exceptional young painters. Keane graduated from Crawford College of Art with a BA in Fine Art Painting, getting his MFA at the University of Ulster in 2000. He has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including the Siamse Tire Theatre and Arts Centre in Kerry, Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, and Driaocht Art Centre in Dublin. Group exhibitions include Scoip Siamse Tire curated by Nigel Rolfe and Peter Murray and E.V.+A in Limerick curated by Rosa Martinez. Keane's residencies consist of a year at Draiocht, Dublin; Vilinius Studio, Lithuania; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Keane's work is gestural, abstract and saturated with movement. His themes are often of seascapes and landscapes, particularly in relation to light. Dr. Slavka Sverakova, University of Ulster, links Keane's work to Joan Miro, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Jackson Pollock.

Lead White Gallery