A very Happy New Year to all. A huge thank you to all the galleries curators and collectors who have supported me throughout 2019.
Here is a quick overview of the portraits posted during 2019 . The subjects range in age from 6 months to 100 years young. I began this series when living in Prague in 2010. There are many more friends, artists, curators, family members whom I have yet to paint however for the year 2020 I will continue at a more reasonable pace , perhaps 4 or 5 portraits alongside commission work.
This blog will look at the portrait series installed in different exhibitions in 2019 and a look at the portrait for each week through the year. Also included in this blog is a curatorial statement on my portrait series by renowned curator Huang Du.
In the exhibition catalogue for ‘Odyssey the Return’ renowned curator Huang Du wrote about this portrait series.
……As an artist with an awareness of “destruction” and “reconstruction” in the context of contemporary art, Niamh Cunningham has created the “Wandering Rocks” a series which consists of 22 small portrait paintings, inspired by the rich and curious literary narrative in the eponymous Chapter 10 of ‘Ulysses’. She paints these portraits of people living in Beijing and Ireland (families, friends, students, artists, curators, etc.) in which they are reconfigured, their images are transformed, reshaped metaphorically into different ‘wandering’ rocks. The artist uses a method whereby she layers photographic images to create an ethereal effect like water ripples, a way of combining real and virtual elements to provoke a sense of surprise in the viewer.
Her paintings describe another way of interpreting the world. The images bear testimony to a real investigation into the way in which the living world actually exists. Rather than saying that she simply likes painting portraits, it is more accurate to describe these works as perceived thinking about the image itself and how to engage with cognizance which is habitual.
In fact, each piece of work is a combination of the artist’s lived experience, her brush painting and materiality bound together using technological pre-sets. She combines the artistic language of painting with today’s lived experience in order to create a unique and personal visual language.
This series of portraits embodies a range of experiences in its dynamic fragmentation, insubstantial images which evoke time, space, identity and memory. This fastidious way of painting is not merely a type of formal innovation, the creative process itself causes an actual disintegration of the painting’s subjectivity and internalizes this metaphysical rupture. In bringing together the perception of image and that of memory, a new image narrative which redefines the portrait, is created.
At the same time, the artist has endeavoured to transform the act of painting, distancing herself from the pursuit of the classical, while at the same time incorporating photographic elements. So, the cropped image instantly establishes the connection between the subject and the experience/awareness of language. She uses alternative painting methods to deconstruct the existing rules of artistic creation and establishes a real intersection of two creative worlds: the visual and the literary…….
A sincere thank you to all of you who supported the portrait series this year including RTE and Yvonne Murray for media coverage in March, Dong Yue Art Museum and Mr Yuan Qiu Lai, the fellow artists of our collective ‘the North Gate Project’ Fion Gunn and Gulistan, Curator Huang Du , The Embassy of Ireland in Beijing and Ambassador Eoin O Leary, the Granary Art Centre Sishui, Shandong and artist/curator Tie Xin, curator Susanne Matz , curator Chang Feng , curator Ma Yiying Museu&m Expo Park Shanghai and curator Lulu , organiser Maggie Xu, Sun Liping and the Shanghai International Cultural Association, and to collectors in China and abroad.