The Molesworth Gallery is delighted to present its sixth solo exhibition of the work of Maeve McCarthy. In this new collection of paintings, McCarthy reflects on the relationship between place, memory, identity, and what it means to call somewhere home. Having spent a number of years in rural France, she brings her familiar garden subject matter back to Dublin as the work navigates between both places, with a sense of a human presence just beyond the edge of the canvas as a common thread, along with the artist's ongoing exploration of the modulations of light and dark on the painted surface.
Back in Dublin, McCarthy also explores the environs of East Wall, a reclaimed part of the city, which acts as a metaphor for reclaiming a sense of the present from our fractured consciousness in the digital age. For the work has a deeply-rooted existential quality, a profound connection with the surroundings in which it is made. Writing in the autumn 2020 issue of The Irish Arts Review, Cristín Leach said of McCarthy's work that it is about "a deep sense of place, memory as a generational bequest, the liminal gap between memory and presence, and the dance between belonging and feeling alone”. In communicating this connection with a very particular place, she gives the work its universal quality.
On a formal level, McCarthy continues her exploration of the contrasting qualities of light and dark - mainly at nighttime or twilight - begun in her rural paintings. The nocturnes conjure a fine balance between realism and abstraction, as extraneous detail is cut and our mind’s eye is coaxed into completing the image. As in the past, the works are remarkable for the subtlety of the artists’s palette and her deft handling of light.
In a review in The Irish Times of McCarthy's 2018 exhibition at the gallery, Aidan Dunne highlighted the artist's mastery of her medium: 'A technically accomplished artist, she favours technique that does not advertise itself, and in this body of work it certainly doesn’t. She sets herself many challenges and more than meets them, all without being showy. But take a moment to consider how well these paintings are made and you will appreciate the exceptional level of her achievement.'
Born in 1964, Maeve McCarthy spent several years in the USA upon graduating from NCAD and has also worked in film animation in Ireland and Germany. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery, London. McCarthy has won several awards, mainly for portraiture. Her portrait of Maeve Binchy is in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. Her work is also held by the National Museum, the Haverty Trust, the National Self-Portrait Collection, the OPW, Fingal County Council and the Royal Dublin Society. She has been a full member of the RHA since 2007.