The Inaccessible Land: Mark Shields - F E McWilliam Gallery

2 March - 7 May 2018


1 March -19 May 2018

'The Inaccessible Land' comprises a selection of Shields' work made over the last 4 years, central to which is an absorbing series of charcoal drawings, a group of 'self made' oils on paper and seven large oil paintings.

The charcoals, 'In Principio', are separated into seven days of creation and evoke obscure forces striving to come into being. Suggestions of cosmic distances and mysterious caverns, time-eroded surfaces and glacial landscapes give a sense of primordial beginnings.

Of the seven large paintings, five 'Relicta' have pitted and scored surfaces from which simplified, symbolic forms seem to emerge, manifested for a moment before passing again into the flux of existence. They reflect the act of making - unmaking - remaking, the ghosts of previous structures and points of reference rise and fall beneath the clotted surfaces. The remaining two large paintings, 'The Tables of the Law', have been emptied out of imagery and only a formal gouged motif remains against the white ground, like an unknown cipher defying definition.

References from literature, music, and personal life attach themselves to the work. A small group of oil and wax panels makes a connection with the music of Wolfgang Rihm. Several works owe their origin to Ernest Shackleton's astonishing account of survival in the Antarctic. A group of simple, roughly hewn woodcut prints, 'The Way', echoes the Tao's assertion that 'the greatest art seems unsophisticated'

Throughout the exhibition there is an abiding sense of the search for a ground of being, after once familiar and secure structures have slipped away.

'Only when man accepts the void, can grace rush in'. 

Simone Weil

The exhibition runs from 1st March -19th May 2018 and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a text by John Hutchinson, Director of the Douglas Hyde Gallery from 1991 - 2016.

Curator Dr Riann Coulter has written a related article for the Spring issue of Irish Arts Review - to be published here in due course.