Wednesday 26 April 2023

Patricia Hurl at IMMA

Recently I went to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to see several exhibitions that were on, but most specifically to see the Patricia Hurl retrospective Irish Gothic. It was a gorgeous day, and the museum was especially welcoming with all the flowers happily in bloom, both on the grounds and in pots surrounding the parking lot.

The night before, I had prepared myself for the exhibition by listening to a conversation between Hurl and fellow Na Cailleacha member, Catherine Marshall (who was formerly a curator at IMMA). The conversation is available at IMMA's SoundCloud page here and is both a witty and insightful hour of chat.

Of course, photos of paintings do not show the urgency of the painting itself, but I was also delighted to see images from Hurl's life and memories, concepts which are close to my own practice.

Each painting had a personal didactic, in which Hurl disussed the work's content in such a way that the audience stepped into the memory and the very essence of the painting. I totally enjoyed reading the didactics as companions to the paintings and Hurl's voice was fresh in my head from listening to the conversation the night before.

As well as the large paintings from the 1980s, there was a plethora of sketchbooks and ephemera on display, along with more current works which were more intimate but nonetheless vital (such as the ageing self-portraits and the Warrior series). I had also seen some of Hurl's current 3D work, with the collective Na Callieacha, last year at a group show Bones in the Attic at the Hugh Lane Dublin Municipal Gallery. I blogged about that show here.

It was wonderful to see Hurl’s work collected together, and most especially great l to re-meet Trick or Treat, a painting that I had first seen at the GPA exhibition in either 1988 or 1989. 

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