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In Parallel - Martin Gale and Charles Tyrrell

July 13th to August 28th

In Parallel is an exciting pairing of Irish artists Martin Gale and Charles Tyrrell jointly curated by Fenton Projects and Sarah Walker Gallery.

With an underlying theme of relationship and connection the exhibition is undercut with a deep contrast in artistic styles. We are two artists involved in two very different ways of looking, reading and seeing. - Charles Tyrrell

This exhibition is of new paintings directly from the studios of both artists. Tyrrell is based near Allihies in West Cork, a short distance from the old stone warehouse on the water in Castletownbere that is Sarah Walker Gallery. Gale is based in Co Kildare.

 Since their rebellious days as students together in art college in Dublin in the early 1970’s, Martin Gale and Charles Tyrrell have lived parallel artistic lives and maintained mutual ties with a strong interest in each other’s 50 year evolving art practice. They were the revolutionary generation of NCAD. Both have since followed a focussed path which has brought them to the top of their fields at this stage of their careers. While their approaches to painting differ, the two artists have maintained a deep level of engagement and support of each other’s art. When the Fenton Gallery was present in Cork during the 2000s, they were both regular exhibitors.

Mirroring this theme of connection, Sarah Walker and Nuala Fenton also met at NCAD in the 1980s. Walker later exhibited with the Fenton Gallery and they have maintained a mutual interest and continuing involvement with each other’s practice.

Charles Tyrrell creates formally considered, conceptually rigorous, abstract paintings and drawings. Scale is significant in his work. I am doing tiny drawings; I work very, very small towards really, really big. Rather than medium to big, it is more extreme.

Tyrrell is showing four of his large-scale new paintings. More recently instead of considering the grid as an underpinning, he has taken it head on, into centre stage.

I build my grids in an unstructured way: placing square and rectilinear shapes randomly on a field, either floating singly or in small groupings – all independent entities. I then start the process of connecting and pulling these into an ordered grid. In doing this, distortions occur as the grid establishes itself, a grid whose existence is the result of a collection of independent events. This idea is fundamental to my way of working. It suits my desire to allow the painting to have a certain autonomy. I don’t want to dominate the process, I want a partnership. - Charles Tyrrell

Although they appear overall as light grey and black paintings - a surface which seems weatherbeaten and archaeological - when looking at them more closely it becomes clear that they are heaving with richly coloured underpainted layers. All colours are lived colours.

For the first time Tyrrell will also exhibit his two handed black and white grid drawings. Created with dense indian ink on paper, these are simultaneously worked two-handed grids which echo each other right and left. These drawings relate closely with the large scale paintings shown here.

Martin Gale’s paintings revel in thoughtful, sometimes ruefully observed, narratives of the Irish environment and people's presence in it. His is a considered realism, where each painting could be a novella. These pensively composed scenes often include figures - both human and animal - that are carefully represented in their ordinariness, but often seem dislocated from their surroundings.

Working from rural Co Kildare, Gale’s paintings directly engage with general landscape narratives, presenting subtle observations of land use changes, and their impact on human and animal day to day life. ‘Down the River’ shows a scene on the banks of the Liffey in Kildare, a spot which could be a place of refuge for the artist. In this cultivated, civilised landscape, two figures share a quiet moment, one looking across the water at a heron. With Gale’s work there is sometimes a side-long interaction between people who are in company but having moments of separate experience.

In ‘Leaving the Woods’ we are brought very close into the action. A group of birds flit low through a copse of trees in this scene of innate drama.

Gale builds up layers, details and observations. In these most recent paintings figures sometimes seem to have become more distanced, or sometimes more integrated with the landscape, often just passing through, as seen in the far background of ‘Trekkers’. The scale of his figures in relation to the breadth of their surroundings is rather in the tradition of 18th century Irish and British landscape painting.

 Martin Gale’s encouragement of narrative and engagement from his viewers - the unpicking of mysteries and histories - seems in contrast with Tyrrell, who looks for a different participant space, bounded by abstract structuring, animated surfaces, and containments. However each artist’s work engages a dramatic core. Their art rewards close reading and, in parallel, both genres welcome reflection to reveal their stories.

title exhibitions-upcoming