I began the portrait project in 2009 when I lived in Prague and have slowly continued this work throughout my years in China. The subjects range in age from 6 months to 100 years young. Through out the year of 2019 I posted a portrait every week on my webpage . This page will look at the different exhibitions in 2019 where the portraits were installed. Also included in this page is a curatorial statement on my portrait series by renowned curator Huang Du.
作为一位在当代艺术语境下具有“破坏”与“重建”意识的艺术家，瑞莲（Niamh Cunningham）完成的“漂泊岩石”（The Wandering Rocks）系列由22张小幅 肖像画组成。
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
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.
Huang Du Feb 2019