The Japanese word yūgen describes “an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses that are too mysterious and deep for words”. Another concept important in Japanese aesthetics –mono no aware– is literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things."
Underlying these concepts is a philosophical understanding of the world as in flux and impermanent and suggests a non-linguistic form of comprehension. There are resonances of these concepts in each of the artist’s practices: an interest in and awareness of pace, duration and time and how these things are experienced and become manifested in different ways. There is also a sense of ‘slow time’ in the artists’ approaches to making work – where a convergence or co-existence of different times in objects, places and texts form a basis from which to generate sculpture, photographs and paintings.
Though the English language does not present concise translations for such resonant Japanese philosophies, language matters to the artists in different ways as does the non or pre linguistic which is intrinsic to both the generation and the reading of works.
Aleana Egan uses a variety of materials to create sculptural gestures and installations which can take the form of slender, fluid works and a more densely concentrated constellation of forms. Often, the sculptures are expressive whilst using a language of materials and artistic technique that is sparing. These materials such as various metals, cardboard, concrete, wood, pigment and fabric are incorporated into a practice which comes from an intuitive as well as an intellectual place and which plays with the materials’ qualities; how they curve, hang or sag. More recently, works are made up of constituent parts, each forming a social relationship with the other.
Caoimhe Kilfeather makes works that are predominantly sculptural and often generated through experimental and intuitive processes in the studio alongside more directed research and reading. Exhibitions sometimes take the form of an environment –the creation of a ‘new place’. Such installations have a reflective presence; they are sparsely appointed with crafted objects that are charged with thoughts, memories and other associations. These objects can behave like facsimiles of ‘real life’ - things as well as art objects in and of themselves. In this way the installation might feel simultaneously like two separate places – one ‘real' and another imagined. She uses processes as diverse as weaving, casting, carving and photography and materials as wide ranging as bronze, iron, plaster, paper, silk, wood and coal. This breadth of matter and method of production is reflective of the world to which the work is addressed or derived from.
Martin Healy works with photography, film and sculpture to explore the cultural and symbolic paradigms that underpin human mythologies and belief systems. The ideological and cultural imperatives used to shape our concept of ‘nature’ is a focus for much of his work, specifically how these forces have manipulated our relationship to the natural world. Subjects as diverse as our perception of time to the symbolic uses of the animal in culture, become starting points for bodies of research that synthesise elements of fact, fiction and mythology. Works are often realised in the form of installations that utilise a range of media, approaching ideas from a number of different registers.
Fergus Feehily works within the parameters of painting. He is known for pushing the boundaries of what painting can be, though in recent years the painterliness of his work has become more pronounced. His work pulls in all sorts of directions, both temporal and physical, though at their core they are simple and modest things, paint, paper, wood, the found, the made and the glued. Perhaps this gluing and assembling is what gives them the potential to range across so many associations.
With thanks to; Centro Cultural Asbaek, Jackie Herbst, Rodrigo Atienza, Rachel Mijares Fick, Aaron Johnson, Michaela Konz, Colum Clissmann, James Feehily, Inga Clissmann, Éile Healy, Cosmo Clissmann, Odhran Healy
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