Stephen Forbes and Thomas Halloran
Time & Tide 15-24 May 2008
Time & Tide
Featuring Stephen Forbes & Thomas Halloran
16 – Saturday 24 May 2008
Stephen Forbes was born in County Down in 1973. He graduated from the Royal Academy of London in 2001 after completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Liverpool John Moores University, in addition to lecturing, painting and research scholarships at St. Helens College in the United Kingdom. He has since exhibited widely throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom and his work may be found in many significant collections, including Deutsche Bank, Allied Irish Bank, IIB Bank, Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin, and Queen’s University, Belfast.
Forbes's paintings are a rare combination of quick-witted, expressive and painterly depictions of children at play, typically in water or in playgrounds. The colours are red, yellow or blue; mimicking the actions within each scene; in the air, on the earth, or in the water. But it is not only the subjects of these paintings which makes them so interesting. Although they undeniably stem from a knowledge of the traditions of figure drawing and keen observational skills, these works ignore the pretentious addressing of social issues, and instead revel in the fundamental action of painting.
Each scene is without a horizon line, or in fact any indication of perspective as although the instant impression is that of an aerial view (objects in the foreground and distance are of identical stature), his figures are depicted side-on. This enables Forbes to minimize the illusion of depth and distance so that the surface of the canvas becomes a two-dimensional pattern and acquires a spatial continuity in which all parts of the composition are treated with equal importance. Another striking twist is that his pictures are without dominant and secondary areas of interest. His backgrounds are for the most part single planes of colour while the surface objects and figures essentially act as rhythmic decoration. This pictorial language he has created evolved out of a search for a style that combines both the naïve and complex. In bringing these disciplines together, it would seem that Forbes has shaped a remarkably unique style of constructing compositions, resulting in a series of succinct and highly sophisticated arrangements - rich in association and spatial ambiguities.
Blue is the theme for the artist’s Oisín Gallery debut with paintings depicting figures at play in swimming baths. Many of the works illustrate interesting developments in the artist’s work, for while Forbe’s has maintained his animated, almost hyperactive brushwork, he has placed many of the scenes within interior settings, introduced parameters, and thus further confused our expectations of perspective.
Time & Tide will be Stephen Forbes’s first official showing at Oisín Gallery. His work may also be seen in both the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Royal Ulster Academy’s annual exhibition this autumn.
Thomas Halloran was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1968. Before studying art at the Institute & University of Boston and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, he attended classes in classical music & piano at the Longy School of Music, and studied Music Theory under the international composer, James Forte.
Inspiration for much of Halloran’s work over the years comes from his passion for classical music; depictions of Beethoven's death mask are a recurrent theme in the artist’s oeuvre:
'The first time I came across Beethoven's death mask, I was so struck by the brutal beauty and fullness of feature that I had to capture the same intensity in my own work. Being a classically trained composer and painter, the death mask of Beethoven has obvious appeal for me. In my work, as in the composer's own music, I have tried to create a tumultuous symphony of contrasting themes. The canvas becomes a battlefield of peaks and valleys, lightness and darkness, warms and cools, solidity and dissolution, representation and abstraction, life and death. To achieve a transcendental quality in my work, I work primarily in oils. These allow me to create rough topographical textures not achievable with contemporary mediums. I have experimented with abrasive filters such as volcanic rock, marble dust, ash and other archival mortars in the past; resulting in a stone-like quality to the surface of the canvas, which has assisted in the development of this current collection. The relief-effect, coupled with the scale of the pieces, places the work somewhere between sculpture and painting. The subtractive process of sanding and scraping enhances this quality. With knives, razors, steel wool, sandpaper and solvents, I reveal the previous layers of the painting like an archaeologist reveals the buried secrets of the earth.'
More recently, sinuous, broody landscapes have become a primary theme. Each painting a fabrication from the artist’s imagination, these generic scenes now take their origin from the Irish landscape since he relocated to County Loais in 2007. He prefers stormy or dramatic vistas in which the horizon is always elusive. Reproducing these scenes onto canvas involves the merging of colours through applying and scraping the surface with equal vigour, building layers and infusing the whole with a strong sense of rhythmic movement. This enhances one of the main concerns in Halloran’s work, namely that of transformation: the transformation of sky into land, and the convergence of land into sky with dramatic results.
Time & Tide is Thomas Halloran’s first exhibition in a Dublin gallery. He will also feature in Oisín Gallery’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition alongside artists such as James English, Mike Fitzharris, Katy Simpson, Thomas Brezing and Ronan Goti. The 30th Anniversary Exhibition, which will be launched in conjunction with the 2008 Dublin Culture Night on 19 September.
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Images available upon request
Contact: 00353 (0)1 661 1315
Paintings in the exhibition