An exhibition by three renowned Irish artists for The Year of Yeats 2015, presented at Belgravia Gallery, 23 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London from the 19th of October to the 9th of November 2015 as part of the yearlong, global celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the poet and Nobel prize winner W.B. Yeats.
Bettina Seitz, Patrick Hall, and Nick Miller all live and work in Co Sligo in the North West of Ireland, regarded by Yeats as his spiritual home. Seitz invited Hall and Miller to show paintings alongside her new sculptural works which are directly inspired by the theatre of WB Yeats, with which she has strong involvement and connection.
These new works in white Jesmonite acrylic resin, glass fibre and steel respond to plays such as The Only Jealousy of Emer, The Death of Cuchulain, At the Haws Well and Purgatory. She focuses in particular on his Plays for Dancers and the different elements from Japanese Noh theatre, including masks, music, ritual and stylisation, through which Yeats used to create a strange intimacy with his audience, attempting to bring them into an almost trance like state. By 1921, having written his Four Plays for Dancers, Yeats had come to believe that in tragical art “expression is mainly in those moments that are of the entire body”. Bettina Seitz’s sculptures capture moments of transition and transformation within the plays, holding them with both delicacy and strength, like artefacts in a museum. Her work draws deeply from the stylised art of Yeats’ staging, that glorified man in the beauty of his physicality, energy and passion and from his life long quest to reach the spiritual beyond purely material facets of human life.
Patrick Hall, now in his eightieth year has been a strong and influential figure in the world of Irish painting since the 1970’s, his work continues to be highly regarded by new generations of artists. While he has travelled, worked and exhibited extensively, he regards the inner journey as his most adventurous one, testing the parameters of the human psyche and imagination. Based largely in Co Sligo since the mid 1990’s he regards the isolation of his life and studio as fundamental. His work explores the enigma and paradox of aloneness at the heart of totality and infinity. Being asked about the role of religion in in an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hall says: “Gradually as I got older these things became very meaningful for me and have remained very meaningful for me. They were doors to transcendence, to stepping outside of myself, towards otherness….There’s a thing called the cloud of unknowing, so religion is about not knowing. Religion is really a bad word, inaccurate. Otherness matters more than anything”.
Nick Miller also addresses a kind of ‘otherness’. His critically acclaimed work in portraiture, landscape or the still-life paintings presented for this exhibition; is charged with the attempt to perceive and hold the energy of engaging with his subject in material of paint. Paintings for Miller are the remains of an encounter, what is left behind from of a particular way of meeting the world. The work included in this show comes from a series called: Vessels: Nature Morte, began in 2013 they are studio portraits of cut vegetation and flowers in vases. In this work Miller approaches nature with an urgency, holding the vitality of life, before it fades. More obliquely through attention to the vessels in which elements of nature stand; he felt the act of painting to be a way of connecting to his terminally ill mother who had collected these vases during her life.
All three artists are connected not only by their location in Co Sligo, but as with WB Yeats, by the conviction in the practice of art as a real journey in which one may face or glimpse moments of transcendence beyond a trembling veil.
Belgravia Gallery, 23 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London from the 19th of October to the 9th of November 2015.
Supported by: Culture Ireland, Yeats 2015, Jameson Irish Whiskey