Wednesday 12 October 2022

Citizens? at Rathfarnham Castle

A few weeks ago I was at the launch of "Citizens?" at the wonderful Rathfarnham Castle. This two-person exhibition examines and responds to notions of citizenship, home and identity. It is a show of work by Syrian painter Manar Al Shouha, who is an asylum seeker living in Dublin and artist Belinda Loftus, who is a descendant of Adam Loftus the Elizabethan commissioner of the castle, which became his family home.

Al Shouha's gorgeous paintings are exhibited in the large Dining Room. Unfortunately my photos do not give justice to the amazing paintings but only give an idea of scale and how they are exibited in the space.

Thin layers of oil painting and fine draughtsmanship in the charcoal drawing on canvas render the images ghostly and exquisite. I was reminded of the incredible work of early 20th century Austrian painter Egon Schiele, whose drawing skills I previously have tended to consider unmatched.

Loftus's work was exhibited in The Saloon and The Pistol Loop Room. Her work could be considered more experimental, as she worked in a variety of media and styles, ranging from conceptual to faux naif. However, it did not have the impact on me that Al Shouha's work did.

The exhibition continues till October 23 and is well worth visiting.

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