Modern Figure

Preview: 6.00-8.00 pm Thursday 9 August Continues until Saturday 18 August 2007

Eight artists are represented in this illuminating display of works that reference and explore the treatment of the figure as subject in contemporary painting. On show alongside Erwann Tirilly's hybridized monster models and Chris Stevens's subverting and disarming portraits are works by Guy Barton, Jacqueline Marr, Stephanie Rew, John Smyth, Maya Kulenovic and Tina Spratt....

Biographies of the eight participating artists are below. Please contact Antoinette Sinclair (Curator) for further information/Press Pack.

Erwann Tirilly was born in Brittany, France in 1978. He studied visual art at the Rennes University, specializing in fine art painting, and went on to study glass technique at the European Glass Institute, in Vannes Le Chatel, France. Upon graduating, he joined the Charles Robert Studios in Pluguffan, France, and produced glass works for domestic and church designs. Whilst pursuing his interest in the history of stained glass production, he began to combine religious iconography into his painting practice. In 2001, Erwann was invited to exhibit at the Quimper University in France. This exhibition was entitled Madagascar, and took inspiration from the island's traditions, including rituals, mutilation, animal sacrifices, voodoo and dance. Violent depictions of primitive rituals explored the relationship between the spiritual and human forms. The exhibition was significant, and followed quickly with a second invitation to show in Guilvinnec. In 2002, he moved in Lorient, to work at the Verre-l'interieur studios, where he gained knowledge in other glass techniques such as fusing and sculpture. During this period of study, he exhibited frequently with the Contemporary Art Association. He moved to Galway in 2004 to work at the ARIA stained glass studio, and to participate in Artspace: A collective group of artists, with whom he exhibited in both France, in the Galway Art Centre and in University College Hospital during the Tulca festival. Erwann's paintings are concerned with the human body: its language, skin tones and sexual allusions, together with religious iconography and imagery to associate the flesh with transcendence through distortion. His figures are depicted as being both terrestrial and vulnerable; evoking the duality inherent in human beings regarding the flesh & spirituality. His most recent works portray solitary figures, dissected and divided, creating alternative perspectives and by manipulating distance.

Tina Spratt was born in Somerset in 1976. She completed her education at the University of Wolverhampton, graduating in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Illustration. However, Tina's passion for painting and drawing the human figure persuaded her to concentrate on a professional career in fine art. Tina has previously exhibited works at the 1999 Royal Bath & West of England Art Show, together with a highly successful debut at the Maze Gallery in Cardiff that autumn. Since this debut, she has featured on BBC Radio and on national television. She was also selected to compete in the annual BP National Portrait Competition in London and participated in the 2005 London Contemporary Arts Fair. Her work was first debuted in Dublin in the Oisín Gallery's Summer Event Exhibition in 2005. Attracted to the methods of painters such as Lucian Freud and Rembrandt, Tina’s own approach involves emphasizing light and mood. Her present style has been developed through many years of experimenting with palette, textures and perspectives - although the inclusion of fabric within her compositions has always been an enduring feature. In the context of profound social and cultural change, artists have employed radical approaches to address the body, as both subject and object, and as a means of exploring themes and individuality. The question of how to represent the human figure has preoccupied artists since the earliest times. Many of the great creative struggles of the modern era can be seen as attempts to move beyond or away from studio conventions to achieve a more authentic relationship with the human subject. Technological advances in photography in the twentieth century have led to its increasingly important and innovative role in artistic expression - be it as the final creation or part of a process. Tina’s choice to photograph her subjects and reconstruct the image in oil does not entirely result in a photographic likeness. Instead, she captures an atmosphere and beautifully reveals private, transitory moments.

Stephanie Rew was born in Carlisle in 1971 and raised in Edinburgh. She trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Scotland and, upon graduating in 1994, won the Elizabeth Greenshields Award. She has since exhibited extensively in London and Glasgow. Inspired by the work of Caravaggio and Raphael, Stephanie’s primary choice of subject is the figure. She employs classical styles and techniques concerning pose and composition and often limits her palette in order to enhance a sense of privacy, and draw attention to form. Combining these techniques with simple, fluid, sculptural lines gives a contemporary feel to her work, without unnecessarily detracting from the figure. She has exhibited in both solo and group shows throughout Scotland, the United Kingdom, France and Ireland. Her paintings may be found in collections in the United Kingdom, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as private collections in Australia and the United States.

John Smyth was born and raised in Fort William, on the West Coast of Scotland. In 1996, he moved to Aberdeen to study painting at Grays School of Art and it was there that he developed his distinctive style of figurative painting, under the support and tutelage of Joyce Cairns, RSA. Exhibitions include Young Scottish Painters, Phillips Auctioneers, Edinburgh in 2000; Beneath the Surface in The Winter Salon, The Albemarle Gallery in 2005; Figures of Eight, The Leith Gallery, Edinburgh in 2004 and the The Three Scotsmen, The Rendezvous Gallery, Aberdeen in 2003.

*Maya Kulenovic was born in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia Herzegovina) in 1975. She studied classical piano at the Sarajevo Conservatory from 1984 to 1992, followed by a three years Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in painting at Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul, Turkey. Between 1995 and 1997, she completed an AOCAD Honours course at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and in 1998 she graduated with a Master of Arts from the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, England, during which she was an invited resident at the Goodenough College, also in London. An artist's technique often gives clues to how he/she thinks about his subjects, life, beauty, and mortality. Maya Kulenovic's aesthetics lies in the combination of vulnerability and strength of her subjects, and the same can be seen in the way she handles her material. In her paintings there is a constant dialogue between spontaneity and control. Her technique comes from the tradition of old masters, which she studied for many years. She uses heavy layers of paint, thin glazes and dark palette to create chiaroscuro effects reminiscent of Caravaggio and Rembrandt; yet her work does not have the obsessive or decorative quality of many contemporary paintings in 'traditional realist' style. Instead, Maya Kulenovic's technique is expressive, direct, fresh, and often challenging; and it invites the viewer to participate emotionally in the work.

*Chris Stevens was born in Basingstoke, England in 1956. Between 1974-1978 he studied University of Reading. In both 1981 and 1982, he won the Southern Arts award for Painting, together with the South West Arts award for Painting, also in 1982, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Award for Artist as Printmaker in 1986. He was overall Prize Winner at the 1990 BP Portrait Award and, in 2006, won the 50over50 UK arts competition. Residencies include the Sunderland Football Club, funded by the Arts Council between 1983 and1984 and the West Midlands Arts residency at Birmingham Airport between 1984 and1985. The artist moved to Los Angeles from 1987 to1989, working on a variety of commissions for North Street Films and Mercury Films, which involved producing paintings for the movie, ‘Scenes From The Class Struggle in Beverly Hills’. Chris Stevens’s work subverts the traditions of painting by presenting subject matter that is fundamentally alien to the mode and genre of depiction. Kids in jeans, t-shirts and bomber jackets, smoking, talking and yet wrapped in painterly brushstrokes are immediately surprising. The work is disarming specifically because Stevens paints people who are most often pigeonholed into stereotypes and who are rarely the subject of portraiture. In viewing Stevens’s work we are made to confront our own prejudices and expectations.

*Guy Barton studied Philosophy and worked in the travel industry in New Zealand before returning to the United Kingdom to study Art at Falmouth College in Cornwall, from which he graduated with a First and was awarded the Principal’s Purchase for the College Collection. As well as teaching Printmaking in various colleges. In 2006, he completed a one-year residency at the Winchester College for Boys, and has recently been involved in a collaborative project with the Royal Anthropological Society in London, with whom he has been invited to exhibit in both Newport and Poland in 2008. Barton lives and works in Brighton and his large-scale figure and portrait paintings have been exhibited in galleries in Cornwall, Brighton, Winchester and London, in addition to numerous art fairs throughout the UK.

*Jacqueline Marr was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1977. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honours from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee University in 1999. She has exhibited extensively in galleries and at art fairs throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Awards include the 1999 RWA Bursary from the Royal West of England Academy, the John Kinross Scholarship from the Royal Scottish Academy, also in 1999, and The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust Grant and Loan in 2000. Collections include Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, The University of Dundee; Perth Royal Infirmary; the Royal Scottish Academy Archives in Edinburgh, Halifax/Bank of Scotland and The Royal Bank of Scotland. Media coverage relating to her exhibitions have been broadcast on Scotland Today in 2002, Talking Scotland in 2004 and Grand Designs, Channel 4 in 2006.

* Indicates which first showing in Dublin


Paintings in the exhibition