Curatorial Statement by Annette Moloney for Tight Squeeze Exhibition
“Paraic Leahy’s arts practice explores a number of themes and motifs through the process of painting and drawing. Routinely his work is left incomplete with sections that are untouched. When placed next to highly detailed sections of work, the disparities between the two are emphasized. Paraic’s work often relies on childlike or adolescent sources. The work presents non-scenes, where the world outside its own narrowly selected view has been bleached out, verging on the erased. He is primarily interested in isolated forms and the use of specific pieces of wood to convey these ideas, aiming to create an overall subtleness within the work. According to the artist ‘Just as memory is exceedingly selective, faced with such an overwhelming amount of data, so too are these images. What is recalled is rich in specifics, whether true or not, and attempts to reconcile dichotomies between corporeality and fiction, as well as between what
appears tamable and intractable, to create a tension within the work, despite being imbued with a childlike sense of curiosity.’”
Mary Conlon, Director, Ormston House Gallery, Limerick City, describes Leahy’s work as follows:
“Leahy’s most recent work deals with ‘absurd logic’ through creating highly detailed paintings - a sort of magic realism that deviates from the familiar, breaking the rules of our world. Leahy presents a metaphorical family tree of contemporary man, re-reading historical postures, attitudes and norms with disorienting detail, deliberately ambiguous and open-ended. The mutations present in these portraits are implausible and outlandish yet obedient to certain mathematical principles we might call unifying laws; a host of ills that hover between the body and the mind; feeding the dead, yet maintaining a strong contemporary relevance.
Despite the use of ‘reliable’ materials and figurative precision, there are many ways to read and interpret the works. We could draw, from these headless gentlemen and moss-spewing ladies, themes of incompleteness or isolation, social order or aesthetics. We could think of the honorable characters - smart uniforms, impressive facial hair, donning various species of succulent plant life - as simple stories or contested philosophies to explain difficult or dark parts of human life; as hybrids or hosts; ridiculous and dignified at the same time.”
Paraic Leahy discusses his exhibition at JEMA by writing, ”As my paintings and drawings are very time consuming I generally work on a miniature scale, as opposed to the large wall paintings that take up the galleries of the JEMA Museum. The idea of scale was endless within the museum… it focused and adapted my work in an honest and precise manner.”
Paraic Leahy Bio
Paraic graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2008 with an Honours Degree in Fine Art Painting. He was an original Founding Member and Technician with Occupy Space, an artist led gallery in Limerick City. He recently exhibited a Solo Show at Ormston House (Limerick). Past projects include Isolated Borders (The Old Police Station Art Center, London), The Water Tower Art Fest (Sofia, Bulgaria), The Woods (Limerick),“Something tells me there’s something happening at the zoo” at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery (Dublin), Imposing Nature (Monster Truck Gallery, Dublin) and Claremorris Open (Mayo). He has received numerous awards such as Ucross Foundation Fellowship (Wyoming, U.S.A), North Tipperary Artist Support Scheme, Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Training Award, Claremorris Open Exhibition (Second Prize) and the Tyrone Gutherie Centre Bursary Award.
To learn more about Paraic Leahy’s practice please visit:
Annette Moloney is a socially engaged artist, curator and collaborator based in Limerick. Her arts practice includes exhibitions; critical writing; talks; artist’s professional development and mentoring as well as public art projects. Her self-published text on Art in Slack Spaces can be found at www.artinslackspaces.ie and in July 2011 a version of the text was shortlisted for the New York based e-flux ¦ art&education New Prize for Young Scholars on the topic of 'No Rules – Negotiating Art and Deregulation'.
Recent projects included the role of Artists Liaison on the Dialogue Arts + Health project working with the Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland (AHCI) and also co-curating a project based in Dundrum, Co. Dublin called unfolding narratives ¦ Dundrum Open Submission 2011 (with Maeve Mulrennan). Previous professional experience includes working as project manager at the Irish Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, as Artistic Director of Clare County Council’s Public Art Programme and as Public Art Specialist with the Arts Council of Ireland. She is a keen athletics club runner and a proud member of the Munster Rugby Supporters Club.