Pigsy is the alter-ego of Irish architect Ciarán McCoy whose new exhibition “I went to Mass” reflects his sense of isolation and hope after moving to Malaga during lockdown last year …
How do you describe your own artworks?
I paint in a neo-expressionist post punk style. I paint as a release; my work is figurative and hyper gestural along with having a grafitti-esque vibe to it. Most of my artworks are painted in vibrant and vivid colours – even more so, since I arrived in Spain late last year.
Many of my works are also self-portraits or semi-biographical. The action of placing paint onto a canvas is an attempt to unleash the questions that rattle around in my mind constantly. The canvas never answers but the journey has begun. My work is the positive culmination of frustrations,?experiences and life in general. I like to draw quickly and loosely. I believe drawing fast allows for a flow of honesty with no manipulation of feelings and overthinking the meaning of the story.
What was the inspiration for your new exhibition “I Went to Mass”?
I arrived in Malaga last August, after being in lockdown in Dublin and working from home as an architect for the previous few months. When I got to Malaga things were different because there were less restrictions and businesses were open. However, in Spain I found myself in a position where I couldn’t communicate because I couldn’t speak Spanish. My mind was awash with ideas, so much so that I couldn’t think straight with the chaos rattling around in my head. I found myself wandering into a church every evening to meditate and transcend into a state of creative spiritual contemplation. From this transcendence I penned a poem “I went to Mass” which begins:
I went to mass
Not to pray or to find a religious way/But to be with my chaotic soul?in peace and calm to listen/?Listen?Listen?Listen/?To a loud, uneasy, mind …
This poem and the feelings I experienced in the church became the starting point for the exhibition. Additionally I also found myself painting about isolation, hope, the power of a greater spiritual influence on one’s life (in my case, art) and my chaotic mind. All of these thoughts and feelings are what make up my new exhibition here in Malaga.
Is there a central artwork in the new collection?
“De Facto Leader ” is hung as the centrepiece on the main wall in the gallery. It is set in front of a collage backdrop of random paper sketch studies with three hanging sculptures made from discarded studio objects. This display, as a whole, acts as an altar to the art and sets the scene.
“I’ve Given Enough” can be seen as the central artwork in this collection, there is a flow from one painting to another that charts my thought process through the series of works and tells the story of me silencing my chaotic mind. The central artwork is an enquiry in to the sport of bullfighting and within the painting I armed the bull (the main protagonist) with a gun in its mouth in order to level out an unequal scenario and to allow the bull to have enough force to exert a win in this unfair fight. Comparisons can be drawn between society now being armed with a vaccine which will bring about an end to the pandemic.
Where and how do you work?
At present I’m living and working in Malaga, Spain. I had hoped to move to Spain in March 2020 but my plans were postponed due to Covid-19. I finally arrived in August and chose to live and set up a studio in Malaga, because of its accessibility and also its creative, bohemian lifestyle. Malaga is a very creative town with an impressive art history, lots of museums and a vibrant street art scene. My studio is on the first floor above La Casa Amarilla Galerie on Calle Santos – I look forward to welcoming visitors from Ireland to my studio when we can all travel again.
My technique normally involves a free-flowing start to each work as I set out the scene for the broader context of the work, followed by a slower, drawn out finish as I immerse myself in the painting. The mediums I use to create paintings and sculptures vary and range from everyday household acrylic paint, chalk, oil sticks, acrylic sticks, spray paint, charcoal and discarded studio and street objects.
My routine is to get up, walk around the city, look for discarded objects, observe life and then head to the studio around 3pm or 4pm, where I work until late.
You create art under an alter-ego to separate your job as an architect. How do the two disciplines of art and architecture converge in your work?
Architecture has allowed me to develop a great discipline and structure, which then gave me the knowledge and confidence to be able to discard the rules when creating art. I had to understand a disciplined form of creativity before I could mature into a creative undisciplined artist.
“Pigsy” is a completely separate entity and I like to think that my alter ego paints with no inhibitions and or previously learnt techniques. However, I find myself starting some paintings with a mathematical equation that lends itself to the structure of a composition. This all really depends on my mood. The quicker I expel my thoughts, the freer and looser the compositions are. By comparison, I approach architecture with a different mindset entirely but that’s not to say it’s less creative, it’s just different. There are lots of external factors to consider when designing and moulding spaces that ultimately will be occupied by humans and will sit into the natural environment respectfully.
Do you have any artistic influences or mentors?
I am a fan of certain artists and my work is influenced by them: Purvis Young, Bill Traylor, Karel Appel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Eddie Martinez and Hawkins Bolden. I am also influenced and inspired by street/urban/graffiti art and music such as hip-hop, New Wave, punk and jazz.
At the moment the series of art pieces that I’ve been researching for a future art work is Cy Twombly’s “Fifty days at Iliam”. I’ve not seen these particular pieces by in person, but hope to someday.
My inspiration in general comes from many different places. It could be a simple conversation with someone that sparks an idea for a painting and then I explore that idea or story in my own way. It can come from newspaper articles, TV, books, the internet, music, poetry or just a dream. I find everyday life to be very inspirational which gives me hope and positivity particularly given the challenging experiences we are all currently going through. I also blog on my website which is a great outlet for me beyond my art www.ciaranmccoy.com.
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