Does having personal experience of seeing the bridge at Argenteuil, the beach at Hastings or the coast at L’Estaque better equip you to understand or gain insight into the works of Monet, Turner or Cezanne?
The new works and video installation Aether by Martin Healy at the Oonagh Young Gallery are located in an equally resonant landscape, that of Connemara in the West of Ireland. Being very well acquainted since childhood with the particular topography of that landscape between Roundstone and Clifden brings a certain empathy with the artist. Knowing every beach, bog and mountain, each nook and cranny, every craggy, lichen-covered rock outcrop of that part of the Connemara coast means you retain a mental map. Watching the video I kept thinking, oh I know that bit! The art can thus act as an aide-memoire to a form of travelogue. But this knowledge can become a distraction from the artist’s intentions.
In the video a solitary figure passes through the landscape acting as a sort of Enlightenment cipher – a link between the emotive Aether of the natural world and the revelations of science. The narration by John Cavanagh draws heavily on the early 20th century writings of Paul Scheerbert and his quest to solve the problem of perpetual motion. Chalk drawings and wooden constructions of imagined machines indicate his desire for a utopian world of boundless energy. Yet little is revealed in the video. Pleasing to journey along the shoreline with but ultimately not enlightening enough.
Aether – Martin Healy, curated by Mary Cremin
Oonagh Young Gallery – October 16th -30th 2014