‘On a Pedestal’ Group Exhibition, 2018
CASTLETOWN HOUSE | CASTLETOWN CELBRIDGE, CO. KILDARE, DUBLIN, IRELAND
2ND JULY – 1ST SEPTEMBER 2018
Inspired by the classical busts in Castletown’s Long Gallery, this exhibition brings together works from an international group of contemporary artists who explore the genre of the portrait bust in a variety of media: from wood to stone, from marble to ceramics, from stainless steel to more ephemeral materials such as sugar. Initiating a dialogue between past and present, classic and modern art, the diversity of materials and techniques used by the artists represented in the exhibition will inspire visitors this summer.
Among those included in the exhibition are Irish artists Ursula Burke, Janet Mullarney and Kevin Francis Gray. International artists include Sir Tony Cragg, Barry X Ball, Giulio Paolini, Jam Sutton and Ah Xian. Curated by Mary Heffernan, General Manager Castletown House, Hélène Bremer, Dutch art historian and curator and Nuala Goodman, Milan-based Irish artist and curator.
David & Goliath
The Times ‘Exhibition puts classic art form on a pedestal’ 22nd October 2018
The Sunday Times, Ireland: ‘Art review: On a Pedestal’ 8th July 2018
Irish Times ‘On a Pedestal: contemporary takes on the classical portrait bust’ 3rd July 2018
The ageless allure of the portrait bust
Hélène Bremer, Art Historian and Curator
(Extract from exhibition catalogue)
The title for this exhibition celebrating the contemporary portrait bust, refers as a matter of course to the plinth that goes almost inseparably with this sculptural form. However, here, in admiration of this special category within the discipline of sculpture, the portrait bust as a genre has been put on a metaphorical pedestal too. Art history shows that many artists have visited the genre, either solely making busts or including them as part of their complete body of work. Why are artists still fascinated by making a bust? The contemporary artistic view on the bust deserves a closer look and examples of the work of thirty-two artists are presented for the public to admire and contemplate.
The exhibition shows that the shapes and ideas behind these small statues are still based on classical values and have 'survived' history. Moreover, this unique form of portraiture has remained visible and still deserves its place within the discipline of contemporary sculpture. Firmly founded within the tradition of the classical world, but without ignoring artistic progress and changes throughout the centuries, the works presented in the exhibition and this catalogue tell a timeless story: one about the human search for the representation of one's self, one's beauty and one's inner psychological space.
Jam Sutton's David and Goliath is a most striking illustration and interpretation of linking the classical tradition with today's world. A typical twenty-first-century adolescent has kicked a classical portrait bust of a historical/biblical figure off its pedestal. He takes over the place of the bust and his posture imposes a winning mood, but instead of looking triumphant he seems to gaze into the depth of history. It is an almost philosophical theme. Sutton explains that he is inspired by juxtaposing portrayals of contemporary identity with classical influence. He deliberately works in a very traditional material - Carrara marble - but uses the techniques of 3D scanning and printing. This emphasizes the contrast between classical tradition and contemporary culture. For the viewer many interpretations can be made; the good taking over from the bad, youth from old age, artisanal work versus computer-influenced techniques. Ultimately it can be seen as the classical ideal taken over by contemporary aesthetics.
Time, Space, Memory
Daniela Ferretti, Director of Palazzo Fortuny, Venice
‘The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper’
Art is neither luxury nor ornament. It's a form of communication and knowledge that is unique to our species. It lies deep in the mind and accompanies our evolution, illuminating it as we develop. Time, space, memory are essential elements in constructing the scene where artworks are placed; that which we see is 'beyond' what appears before our eyes. The present is already the evocation of another time: the contemporary is history.