Jim Kavanagh – viewing ‘The Cosmological Sublime’

Galway artist discusses his latest exhibition of paintings

A work by Jim Kavanagh.

A work by Jim Kavanagh.

A MAJOR new exhibition of paintings by Galway artist Jim Kavanagh is currently running at Market Street Gallery, the former Connacht Tribune printworks, entitled As I See It –The Cosmological Sublime.

Kavanagh’s previous exhibitions have featured striking bogscapes and skyscapes, but in this show he directs his gaze into the vast expanse of the universe and beyond. “It seems like a natural step," he says, "with man’s increasing curiosity to examine space with projects like the Hubble Telescope; exploring further and deeper. Some of my work is influenced by the views from the International Space Station looking down on earth, again reflecting how ‘small we are’ in the scheme of things. In my work and exploration of the subject, I employ oil paints and glazes, on canvas and board, using the techniques of the old masters, such as Turner and Rembrandt.”

Jim explains his usage of the term ‘Sublime’ for the the exhibition. “The Sublime (or experiential Sublime ) is a term that has come to populate much of my thought in connection to my current work; or a 21st century review or re-interpretation of the term, which was used extensively by some 19th century artists. I am currently exploring the Sublime in a world where technological development has eclipsed the 19th century Romantics’ notions of our place in the universe.

"Man’s ego in the past was surpressed by the awesome scale and power of nature. We are now seduced by the awesome possibilities of space. Technology has enabled us to enjoy and explore the epicness of our universe and beyond – to explore the Cosmos. My work has always involved man’s reflection on our existence within this realm, yet the paintings are produced ‘without us being in them’. I try to reflect elements of our own human insignificance in the paintings, especially in the face of nature – ephemeral and portentous! The paintings suggest that man is on the cusp, or does not exist; a timeless quality before or after mankind.”

With each of his shows, Jim likes to give something back to the community. For this exhibition, money raised from the sale of works, catalogues, and posters will be donated to COPE Galway, to help fund the charity's new Domestic Violence Refuge Building in Galway.

Kavanagh's career spans nearly 30 years. He has had numerous successful shows in Britain and Ireland, as well as having his work in private collections in four continents. He has featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide, and is currently involved in an exhibition in London organised by The Guardian.

There will be an official reception for As I See It –The Cosmological Sublime tomorrow from 6pm to 8pm. All are welcome. Music, drinks and nibbles will be sponsored by Tigh Neachtain and N17 Craft Beer, Tuam. The exhibition is open daily from 11am to 7pm (closed on Mondays ) and runs until Saturday September 12.

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