Welcome to ‘The Garden of Friendship’ at Art Beijing 2021, a compelling exhibition by Irish contemporary artists. Much has happened since Irish artist Maurice Quillinan organized the first ‘Youyi Visual’ event in Hangzhou in 2019.
At this unique moment, ‘The Garden of Friendship’ offers new perspectives on connections and elicits from us our greatest creativity and courage and the intriguing prospect that we can build a safer and more inclusive home.
The collection ranges from literal visual realism to conceptual abstraction with a broad language of convergence. Are the answers for our new world in transition immersed within these diverse contemporary works?
A global journey beckons. Passports and quarantines are not required. It is our ideas and endeavors which will take flight. The exhibition is arranged in two seasons. A busy season full of movement and action. Many of the artworks discover the value of functioning networks, whether in family dining rooms or in geometric grids hinting at the screen divisions on video conference calls.
‘The Sucrose Series’ explores transformation through crystalisation and drying of water content in mixed media. This transformation occurs on two levels. In the early stages ink is lifted from the surface with hot mixed media, particles of ink are moving and shifting as the process of drying occurs and crystallization takes place and to a certain extent the painting process continues. This layer could be the metaphor for our unique current era of the ecological emergency, being the first generation to witness climate change and the last generation to be capable of taking meaningful action. www.niamhcunningham.com
Niamh Cunningham, Meeting of the Waters -‘The Sucrose Series’,Original sucrose, mixed media, 30 x 22 cm, 2015
Helen G Blake
Blake’s work is self-referential and without a theme. Using a working method where process and contemplation are both allowed to guide the evolution of the work, she composes overtly hand-made paintings which record and examine colour conversations within accumulating pattern structures, embracing accidents, flaws and discrepancies within their rhythms. The title here is deliberately ambiguous but may be taken as a comment on how the colours and shapes were selected and arranged. www.helengblake.com
Helen G Blake, Working Together, Oil on linen, 80 x 100 cm, 2019
O’Brien works in a range of media including painting, photography, video, sculpture and embroidery. She explores ideas of tradition, religion, ritual and domesticity. Table for Two, 2019. refers to preparations being in train, for dinner with a friend or loved one. A meal cooked for you by someone else is very special and food made with love tastes delicious.
Tom Climent’s work investigates the borderline between abstraction and representation. His current body of work is predominantly landscape in nature, it suggests a narrative but never actually reveals what that might be. The paintings also investigate materiality and aesthetics. The layers and the mobility of the paint and textures become a witness to the thought process of their making.