Dublin journal

[Ed. note: artblog pal and art historian Andrea Kirsh visited Amsterdam and Dublin recently. Below is her Dublin report. Read her Amsterdam report.]

Post by Andrea Kirsh
A Philadelphian in Dublin
September 22, 2006

Timothy Hawkesworth
Timothy Hawkesworth
Boats, 2004
Oil, pencil, wax on paper
22 x 25”

I had made an appointment to see Patrick Murphy, director of the Royal Hibernian Academy, whom I knew from his previous position as director of the ICA at Penn; his curls have turned white, but his enthusiasm is the same. He’s continued his Philadelphia connection with a splendid exhibition of the paintings and drawings of Tim Hawkesworth, who lives in Norristown. It grew out of a studio visit Murphy made in 2002, when the artist was in residency at the Ballingen Arts Foundation, Co. Mayo.

Timothy Hawkesworth
When You Called Me Vast, 2005
Oil on canvas
54 x 58”

All of the work was non-figurative; my first thought was an of artist who’d studied Guston, Twombly and Joan Mitchell. I was initially seduced by the drawings. They were large (close to square and at least 29 inches in each dimension) and the artist had scribbled in pencil and a bit of red crayon, obscured with white paint which he prodded and scratched into. Some revealed lettering – none of it legible – and the line had a taut nervousness that was quite different from Hawkesworth’s touch in the paintings. These were celebrations of wet-into-wet painting and love of the viscousity of oil paint

Timothy Hawkesworth
Everything Everything, 2005
Oil on canvas
48 x 48”

The strongest reaction, however, was to the strength of their composition — and this despite the fact that Hawkesworth choose the most difficult of all formats: the square, 36 inches or larger. He had worked the canvases in colored paint which he then occluded with a thick and highly-textured layer of white paint, often further textured with sgraffito. I was reminded of the grandeur of Monet’s great, final, unfinished work at the Musee Marmottan. The exhibition is up through October 22 and there’s a full-color catalogue

Here’s a photo of Patrick Murphy from the Penn website before he went to the Royal Hibernian.

Speaking of catalogues, I visited the Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane, which had just added a new wing and was bitterly disappointed to find that I had missed the Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland exhibition by a week, but bought the catalogue. I was then reminded that I’ll be able to see the exhibition in New York at the Grey Art Gallery (April 30-July 14) .This should be especially welcome to many of us who know O’Doherty’s writing better than his other work. The Hugh Lane bookshop was serious, especially for books on contemporary art, and has no competition in Dublin. The Irish Museum of Modern Art (like the PMA and the re-opened MoMA) has obviously decided to treat the bookshop as a profit center rather than a programmatic offering to their visitors. If the serious art lover can’t find current exhibition catalogues, criticism and historical writing at the local museum bookstore, where can she find them? I’m willing to buy all of my birthday and Christmas gifts at the store of any museum that stocks a good book selection, and I hope anyone who agrees will tell this to their local museum store buyer. [Ed. note: a quick check of the PMA and MoMA websites speaks volumes on this issue. Both museums call their gift shop/book stores the Museum Store. “Books” is a category within the store but it’s one of a dozen categories.]

–Andrea Kirsh is an art historian living in Philadelphia