Something’s happened to Mairead O’hEocha. Or rather something’s happened to her painting – a liberation through a subtle but vivid acceleration. A new gear or higher-octane value has been injected into her work. O’hEocha’s paintings have always possessed a cool, measured and detached atmosphere with a strong sense of location and environment. They have an allusion to the expectant stillness of a Hopper but eschew the potential narrative provided by his solitary figures, a tinge of melancholia but lack the laden symbolism of a De Chirico. Often they are depictions of international everywhere-bland but without the studied realism of a Martin Gale. They are little paeans to the ignored oblique margins of roadsides and industrial non-descript buildings and backwaters.
This small collection of recent work displays a marked leap forward with a new vivacity and a much more expressive approach. Now there are brilliant flashes of colour and skittish movement – a pleasure in colours and speed of application, an increased abstracted quality producing a wider field of view with a cinematic quality. This looseness conversely brings a very assured confidence and boldness. The locations are less identifiable with temporal qualities and an air of that which is about to happen lending them more resonance. There is certain poignancy not evident in previous works.
Carefully considered but with fast execution these new paintings are bold and strong, vigorous and delicate all at the same time revealing a new self-confidence. More is the pity that this is not a more extensive display of her current direction. A larger exhibition is a must. More of these please.
A must see before exhibition finishes in next few days at Douglas Hyde Gallery, TCD.