Culture Woulfe – Molesworth Gallery – Winter Group Exhibition

In this issue, Laura Woulfe sees what Ireland’s contemporary art scene has to offer at the Molesworth Gallery

When it comes to contemporary art, a trip to the Molesworth Gallery is a completely different experience when compared to one of the friendly national institutions such as the National Gallery of Ireland.

The price tags dominate the exhibition space and while the exhibition is free to browse, there was an uncomfortable atmosphere in the gallery considering the staff were undoubtedly aware that I was not the kind of visitor who would be making a purchase.

While one room in particular is more abstract than the other two, there seems to be little attention paid to the layout of the works. This is not an exhibition that is concerned with the context of the works or the artists or in any way tries to establish a relationship or unanimous theme, but is primarily focused on marketing the art works.

This said, little else can be expected from a contemporary art gallery and that is not to imply negativity. Marketing in contemporary galleries is their primary focus and therefore the longer I spent in the gallery, the more I became enthralled with the thought of the artists as workers and not as idealised creative geniuses.

The gallery is quiet and therefore the exhibition did provide a welcoming retreat from the miserable January humdrum of Dublin streets as people walk to work with their eyes fixed to the ground. And even better, this meant that there were no overly-eager tourists nudging their way to block your view of the very painting you were looking at. As a result, this would be the perfect exhibition for brooding solitudes.

Many of the art works exhibited in the winter exhibition really established themselves to be worthy of critical acclaim, demanding that the viewer does not forget the present in the glory of the past, as is often the case with contemporary art.

Particularly commendable artists who featured in the exhibition were Michael Beirne and Robert Bates who both have responded to some of the problems of contemporary art refreshingly by not succumbing to the dominance of abstract style.

Both Beirne and Bates seem to have used our HD culture to enhance their precision, which has resulted in extremely striking images composed of the most minute brushstrokes and detail, rather than simply admitting defeat to the digital age.

While there are indeed many other interesting works exhibited, it is primarily the works of Beirne and Bates that are worth enduring the awkward atmosphere of the gallery.

 Winter Group Exhibition, Molesworth Gallery, free admission, closes 31st January