For Wexford-based artist, Paddy LEnnon, colour defines mood and carries meaning as shown at the inaugural exhibition in Kenmare Butter Market, also featuring work by Paul Hughes and Bridget Flannery …
How do you define your work?
I want to nourish my artistic imagination and develop a purely sensuous response to the visible world. My work is a poetic comment on how water, bogland, rock and sky have inspired me. It is an investigation into what it is in the landscape that imbues us with the emotional resonance that attracted me to it. My art does not copy or replicate nature, it stimulates some feelings and emotions close to what we feel when we are amongst nature.
I want my work to be experienced and explored by as many people as possible with as many different individual ideas about the work with no final meaning attached. I want to indulge their imagination, to create the meaning, the conception of the work.
Having travelled widely how has this impacted on your work?
I love travel and am at my happiest and most at ease when in a foreign environment. We live in a big fascinating world. I love to experience different sensations and to expand on my horizons. All factors of my life manifest themselves in my work in one way or another.
Living in Spain and spending time in China impacted on my work in various ways, giving my art practice a broader more expansive element. In Spain, to my surprise, I unexpectedly found that shade and being in the dark were important factors in life. Finding shelter from an unrelenting sun is a major factor of people’s lives.
In Ireland, we crave the sun and light. I found this to be a transformative experience, giving me a different insight into how my approach to light and colour might develop. I had expected my palette to become lighter and brighter, however it became inadvertently a deeper, richer, stronger ensemble of deep crimsons, purples and mauves. Giving my work a more emotionally charged range of colour.
My time in China was likewise a very liberating and exciting one. My work took some surprising turns. I became more concerned with the exploration of the medium itself and the challenge of taking my work to another level, achieving a new sense of harmony and art of balance. I began working in Da Wang – a residency – with ideas already in my head culminating in a suite of work that reflected my actual time in China.
The painting “Cromeo” was my first excursion/crossover into a new style of painting influenced by my presence there, perhaps a reflection of our innate attraction to water.
I brought this painting home and it’s on show in “Staccato” in the Kenmare Butter Market. All in all, my time in China fulfilled a lifelong desire to visit the East and see the ink works that have been an influence on my approach to my work. While there I had time and space to concentrate solely on my art practice. I could absorb the massive impact of the vast and extraordinary experience that is China. I found it to be always surprising, very interesting and a constant awakening to all my senses.
How does music inspire your work?
The works in “Staccato” are visual music to capture the gaze, a microcosm of my environments’ vibrant polyphony of life. While I work, I listen to and am inspired by music. Each of us paints to the beat of our own internal rhythm. My taste in music is very eclectic and I am as likely to be found listening to James Brown as Martin Hayes. I find things of great value in a wide variety of musical genres.
At the moment, I’m working on two large pieces, one quite soulful and the other a lighter, brighter piece. Working on the soulful piece is accompanied by Eric Satie and the Gloaming while the brighter piece has me listening to Mowgli and Tony Allen the Afrobeat master.
What a privilege it is to be in a position to work on whatever I choose while listening to whatever I want. I like to think that viewers of my work would take the same open approach to observing.
The important work of a curator was really borne out in this show. Dr Eimear O’Connor is a trained musician and always says she hears music when viewing my work. Her input on the mix of work selected to hang alongside the other two artists, Bridget Flannery and Paul Hughes filled me with confidence that “Staccato” was about more than each individual painting and was an enriching experience for all. We are hoping we can tour “Staccato” next year.
Where and how do you work?
I work in a converted shed at the bottom of the stable yard on our farm here in rural Wexford. Surrounded by bird song and horses, it’s a short walk to a lovely strand and a fine environment in which to live and work.
Need to Know: “Staccato” is at Kenmare Butter Market until August 20. Curated by Dr Éimear O’Connor, visual arts curator, and Resident Director of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, it features work by Paddy Lennon, Bridget Flannery and Paul Hughes; www.kenmarebuttermarket.org; www.paddylennon.net.