There is much yet to be done
15.10 - 7.12.2016
"There is much yet to be done...", is an exhibition of recent works by Irish artist David Fox. This exhibition showcases a selection of the artist's current painting practice over recent months. Fox has completed a Bachelors of Fine Arts at Galway's School of Art followed by a Masters in Fine Art at Belfast's School of Art, graduating in 2013. The artist now lives and works in Belfast and is increasingly becoming established locally as an emerging artist, having recent and ongoing participation in both solo and group exhibitions. This is Fox's third major international solo exhibition. This exhibition was created in light of the 2016 centenary year commemorations in Ireland. It is a focus on the north of Ireland and of how this past century has affected the current social and political climate within the "North", with the aim of highlighting that although the ambitions of the 1916 proclamation deserve celebration and remembrance, that they lie unfulfilled. The North of Ireland being testament to this. As an artist living and working in Belfast for over four years, and particularly having lived in the Nationalist area of West Belfast for the past two years, Fox has been inspired to use Belfast as a focus for his investigation. I am looking at 'where we are now' and how far the north has come since the 1916 rebellion and particularly how far we have yet to go, with the aim of creating a juxtaposition to the celebrations of the Republic. Whilst the majority of Ireland remember the 1916 rising and celebrate the birthplace of their independence, the people within the north are reminded of a journey that begun 100 years ago, a journey not yet complete- a road still being travelled. The paintings themselves depict the "barriers", that are still maintained in the North, barriers such as community barriers and barriers of identities. These barriers are represented through a depiction of peace walls, gates at interfaces, Army barracks walls, intimidating murals and other significant landmarks,. All the works are set in the context of a road side setting to emphasise the key message of a "continuing journey". Fox creates a subtle juxtaposition between the continuing struggle of the north to assert the Irish identity and the confidence that the people of the "Free State" of Ireland (or the Republic of Ireland) have gained in theirs . Conscience that although he has had some experience of the ongoing conflict as a resident of the north, the artist remains, an "outsider", in the sense of not having lived through "the troubles". As consequence, the works are not overtly political in nature but resonant and echo with political undertones. The roadside perspective facilitates this subtle approach. Fox uses modern cinematography as a major influence throughout his practice, particularly being influenced by the methods used by a number of directors in the introduction of space to their audience - the audience's understanding of space is dictated and limited by a set number of camera angles and lighting which make up a film’s image stream, which is a composed experience similar to that of a painting. He takes inspiration from film stills associated with a suspense being created by the cropped symmetrical compositions set by the cinematographer which in turn work to create a thrilling atmosphere. Looking at these cropped compositions they construct, Fox makes paintings which work to charge space with a sense of suspension and the unknowing. He uses the stillness of the photographic image to capture settings that suggest these cinematic merits of suspense and tension. For this exhibition, Fox has taken a particular interest in the suspenseful scenes witnessed in "Elephant",(1989), a short film based in Belfast during the troubles and a portrayal of the conflict as, "the elephant in our living room", which was directed by Alan Clarke and produced by Danny Boyle . He has also taken inspiration from the well shot, camera work of such directors as Stanley Kubrick and working directors Steve Queen and the Coen Brothers. Fox takes artistic influences from painters such as, American realist painter Edward Hopper, and also working artists such as Peter Doig and George Shaw who use photography as source when painting. These artists break down the information provided in an image to create works which are charged by the excitement in the process of applying paint in a loose and carefree manner, creating layers and generating atmosphere. Although lacking in the realistic qualities of the photography they have sprung from, these paintings give the viewer enough information to relate to these vacant roadside spaces Fox is depicting, whilst continuously seeking to limit this by thwarting the desires of his audience to see the human presence who have clearly helped to form the structure of these spaces depicted and whose presence echo throughout. Using this, at times loose and care free draughtsmanship the artist seeks to create a sense of unease in the rendering of the spaces. The deliberate mistakes result in a sense of unease. The artist has also found the works of Irish artist Willie Doherty a major source of influence. Doherty uses photography to capture urban scenes in his native City of Derry, using only the cropped image to create a dark narrative and tension without the presence its inhabitants. David Fox's website.
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