ARTIST-WIFE is an exhibition of four painters, Cecelia Danell, Mary Ronayne, Rachel Coyne and Sara Foust. The show opens on Saturday December 8th from 3 – 5pm. and continues until December 22. The four artists are showing in Claremorris Gallery for the first time.
The term, ‘artist-wife’, has been used by arts writers and critics for many years and still continues to be used by some writers today. There is no equivalent term (such as artist-husband) to refer to male artists who are married to artists. Implicit in the term is the notion of the female artist being wife first, artist second. Beyond that the term reflects an attitude prevalent in contemporary art that sees women as the lesser artists, heavily borne out not only in the global art market but also in their radically disproportionate representation in museums.
Rachel Coyne’s paintings are concerned with the place and status of women’s experience in Irish society. She has an interest in photographs from the 1970’s and 80’s, having collected many of these belonging to her mother and her sisters, from when they were becoming women in a society that was unforgiving towards their gender.
She painted these women in domestic situations as she felt the intimacy in the work allowed for the humanity of seeing a figure (a female body) as human, another person. The images reveal a snapshot in time with interesting compositions, pattern and colour. The artist began cropping the figure’s faces from the painting to hide their identity, to allow the viewer to recognize themselves within the painting. The female figure in an intimate space of undressing, reclining on a bed and sensually pulling up stockings could represent any woman in your life; your mother, your aunt, your niece, your friend, your daughter. All women who have been affected by gender politics in Irish society.
Cecilia Danell is a Swedish-born, Galway-based artist working with painting, film and installation. Through her own encounters with the Scandinavian landscape, she explores the theatricality of places that become imbued with artifice, as they can’t live up to the human need for that which is primal, wild and untouched.
She walks and traces an environment that she knows intimately, happening upon decaying remnants of human activity, further upending the romantic notion of nature as untended wilderness. This experience of being in the landscape influences the paintings beyond the photographic source material. Danell details each walk through maps, photographs and notes in her journal, but once in the studio, the quality of oil paint and the hands on process of making become as important to her as the initial source material.
Often foregoing the picturesque for the partial and askew, there is an appearance of melting of the landscape, suggesting an existential undoing, as well as an ongoing exploration into the possibilities of the medium of paint.
Sara Foust was born in 1970 in America and spent her childhood on a rural farm in the deep South. Sara trained at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design in the USA, and with master muralist Susan Cervantes in San Francisco, California where she painted for many years. She has lived and worked on the west coast of Co. Clare since 2002, and is deeply inspired by the landscape of the west.
Sara exhibits her artwork throughout Ireland and internationally. Her work has been supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Clare County Council, and commissioned by CREATE, Leader/RRD, Cluid Housing and HSE, and is in many private collections in Ireland, UK and America.
In her layered and textural landscapes, Sara explores emotional resonance, nostalgia and architectural narrative. Sara pushes the viewer into her landscapes with vigorous marks and vibrant palette, conveying a visual immediacy which enhances the play of illusion and flattening within each painting.
Originally from a farming background in county Carlow, Mary Ronayne feels that the rich colour and contrast of the landscape throughout the seasons has been influential in her work. She uses colour to convey the drama or simplicity of a situation. The interior paintings convey the colour and contrast of nature.
She uses a variety of paint, including domestic paint and enamel to achieve a dramatic contrast, controlling the paint so that some areas are flat and calm, juxtaposed with areas that appear unconstrained and expressive.
Ronayne lives in the Curragh in Co. Kildare and teaches art and design in a Dublin college. The landscape on her daily journey there and back feature regularly in her work – from the flat landscape of the Curragh, the winter light on the gable wall of a house, the seasonally altering tones on the pink house on the roundabout, apartment blocks. Other influences arise from literary sources while reading during her travel to work time.