Art exhibitions at the Galway Fringe Festival

The Surfer by Tony O'Loughlin.

The Surfer by Tony O'Loughlin.

THE ORGANISERS of the Galway Fringe Festival have done a terrific job in transforming the former snooker hall beside the Victoria Hotel on Queen Street, off Eyre Square, into a art gallery for this year’s festival.

Thanks to the dedication and unstinting effort of many volunteers, in a matter of weeks the venue was gutted, cleaned, and painted, and now provides a large and spacious venue showcasing the works of more than 30 artists, and there is much here to enjoy and admire.

Among the artists on show are names familiar to audiences, like the late Sharon O’Malley, represented by a striking and impressive large triptych depicting the female abdomen and vulva, and Joe Boske with his ever-delightful scenes of west of Ireland surrealism.

If these are among the better known artists, there are plenty others whose work catches the eye. Amanda Patten’s five portraits evoke medieval biblical depictions of the saints with stern, bearded figures starkly posed against a sombre black background. Patten grew up in a fundamentalist Christian milieu and her art both portrays and interrogates images of authoritarian power. The figures all regard the viewer side on except the young male in Are You Washed In The Blood whose direct gaze practically utters the words.

Peter Bradley’s attractive layered paintings, Niche and Alpha, with thin bars of colour breaking up the image, are full of vitality. Then there is Michael Geddis with his richly detailed, swirlingly patterned microcellular landscapes, Synaptic Mosaic and Delta-Hyperplastic Angiopathy. Some enterprising scientific business should snap these up to adorn their wall.

Nancy Whelan combines millinery and art in her four compositions of assorted hats in decorated hatboxes, while Tony O’Loughlin’s brightly coloured quasi-cartoonish beach scenes evoke the kind of summer we most definitely have not had so far.

At a time when so many exhibitions tend to feature photo installations, film and so on, one of the things that is enjoyable about the selection of work on show is the amount of actual painting in evidence. Pressure of space prevents me from doing full justice to all the worthy exhibits to be seen here but suffice to say, time spent here passes very agreeably indeed. Do go see.

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