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.
There are multifaceted ecologies among them include the allegorical, infinite and shimmering. These can be seen in the quieter more reflective side of the exhibition space. Other ecologies show oceans we know to be fragile violently crash on the shoreline. Cutlery drawers reference our food cultures that are also in transition and demand agriculture be a force for sustainable nourishment.
Vaccines may give us time but only art will ensure our ability to survive as it endorses the realism and dignity that recognizes our planet as a living system. This is not so much an issue of independence nor dependence nor even interdependence but learning that friendships are an important measure of humanity.
I would like to thank Irish Ambassador Ann Derwin and all from the Embassy of Ireland especially Jack Mc Cormack and Han Bai for their support and hard work. A huge thank you to Emily de Wolfe Pettit , Shi Yang and Michelle Feng of Peking Art Associates who installed and operated Booth B 28 as I have been physically indisposed recently.
Madam Bi Hong, Ambassador Ann Derwin and Emily de Wolfe Pettit at the VIP preview.
Participating Artists 参展艺术家及作品
Abigail O’Brien 阿比盖尔·奥布莱恩
Bernadette Doolan 伯纳黛特·杜兰
Maurice Quillinan 莫里斯·奎利南
This painting illustrates through the human, an innate strength that through life events and social connections empowers us to steady our belief in moving forward. I have always been interested in the symbolism of the red thread of fate, or invisible red thread in Asian mythology. It has influenced my work before and appears again with this painting. In this painting it shows the girl ready to play, however a little uncertain.
Bernadette Doolan, Steadfast, Oil on canvas, 100 x 150 cm, 2019
My work is abstract but sometimes suggests landscape. While working on paintings I was thinking of icecaps, rocks, Ogham script (ancient Irish writing dating back to at least the 4thcentury CE), the fragility of earth, light and space. I graduated as a sculptor and later began to make painting. I often use mixed media as well as paint in my work.
Pauline Flynn Earthwork I, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2019
In recent years I have incorporated Chinese ideograms as my primary mark making process, continuously drawing, erasing and redrawing until a logical, visual conversation becomes fleetingly tangible. The poetry of Hanshan and T.S. Eliot (my other important influence) brings the reader into the DNA of places and ideas, narratives I endeavour to engage with via a visually tactile painterly platform. www.mauricequillinan.net
Maurice Quillinan Poem 117: There is a Mist Eater, Oil on linen, 99.3 x 122 cm, 2019
‘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.
Abigail O’Brien: Cutlery Drawer, from ‘Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner No. 3’, Lambda chrome print on archival paper, 116.5 x 90 cm, Ed 1/2 & AP, 2019
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.
Tom Climent, Giant , Oil & plaster on canvas, 92 x 92 cm, 2019
Referencing post-modern, it borrows qualities from European old masters, using traditional characteristics in a modern context. Robert Ryan paints landscape, but his work cannot be described as ‘landscape painting’. Allegorical concepts including the infinity of space and time, solitude, vulnerability, fragility and the cycle of life are explored in his paintings and drawings in which a generic four-legged creature is central. This creature inhabits another world, a universal landscape. Ryan has cultivated his images, of both place and its inhabitants, into a hybrid, a non-specific and as a result the viewer is left to reflect on essential truths. This is work that ultimately celebrates the commonality between man and all other creatures – past, present and future.
Robert Ryan, Last of a Species, Oil on canvas, 61 x 76 cm, 2019
Ver is the Latin for Spring which indicates the time of the year that the painting was
made. The Maya were a Mesoamerican, Central American civilization. The painting comes from researching the Mayan period probably through images of Mayan art and architecture. No subtitle, so it was probably a reaction to the season. Influence is not something I am aware of, but I live in and work in the world and occasionally the world taps me on the shoulder and says, look! www.samuelwalsh.com
Samuel Walsh, Vex X (Maya), Oil and acrylic on canvas, 51 x 51 cm, 2013
This painting chronicles a moment in time in a kitchen in Dublin, Ireland. The individuals are a diverse group of young people, some are members of a band, some are family and friends. There are 12 figures present. There are many details in the painting of typical foods, drinks, packaging and furnishings. All the characters posed for me, but not all were there at the same time, and the painting evolved organically, as a kind of time lapse, a glimpse into the lives of others. www.unasealy.com
Oil on canvas, One of the diptych, 100 x 120 cm, 2019
For the last 40 years the focus of my work as a painter, printmaker and draughtsman, has ranged from aspects of the urban landscape to the ruggedness of the western seaboard. Working outdoors and returning to the studio to develop work on a larger scale, my images reflect the formal elements of composition; – Shape, form and fall of light, with large abstract passages and surfaces which articulate the relentless, energetic and elemental force of nature. www.donaldteskey.com
Donald Teskey, Summer Storm, Acrylic on paper, 76 x 105 cm, 2018