Matters romantic, carnal, and rapturous

Exhibition review: Desire at Town Hall bar and Black Gate Cultural Centre

'Rapture III' by Margaret Nolan.

'Rapture III' by Margaret Nolan.

AS IT is Valentine's week, the Town Hall Bar Theatre bar and the new Black Gate Cultural Centre, on Francis Street, joined forces to mark the occasion and host an exhibition entitled Desire, celebrating matters romantic, carnal, and rapturous.

Featuring 47 works in various media, this group show (or should that be ‘grope show’ perhaps? ) is made up of artists Tom Mathews, Dean Kelly, Tony Carragher, Glenn Gibson, Shane O’Maille, Julia Dunin, James Fleming, Ciara Nolan, Padraig McCaul, Fin Bar, Kathy Ross, Elena Dova, Birgit Lochmann, and Margaret Nolan, who also curates the show.

At the Town Hall there is a notice warning patrons that ‘work of an explicit nature’ is on view, although it’s only Margaret Nolan’s pieces that might make one’s maiden aunt blush. Her large Rapture III and Rapture VI deploy the same bold vivacity of colour and form she uses in her commercial murals, in wonderfully frank and dramatic depictions of erotic ecstasy. Those two pieces feature a couple, but Nolan goes a step further in the playful wire-and-wood sculpture Rapture in Wire V which depicts a trio of figures entwined in mutual pleasuring.

In contrast to such frolicsome friskiness, Birgit Lochmann’s painting Soft Touch captures a charming moment of tenderness between a man and woman viewed from behind as his hand gently touches hers. Lochmann can do ecstasy as well, as shown in The Lovers, which cleverly fuses two views of a lovemaking couple to create a vivid sense of movement in the picture.

Dean Kelly’s photograph on canvas, Expectant In Salthill, has a lovely natural domestic intimacy in its depiction of a naked pregnant woman in her bathroom and, in the foreground, a partially seen naked male torso. Kelly also contributes a beguiling painting of his wife in the bath entitled Ma Femme En Bain/Ophelia and that Ophelia motif is also present in Kathy Ross’s Submerged God’s female figure whose hair streams out behind her.

Other notable works include Tony Carragher’s sensuous black and white photographs and Tom Mathews’ drolly funny cartoons which remind us that romance and carnality can be a source of laughter as well as lust.

The show continues until the middle of March. The works are also available for purchase.

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