Painting for Colm Mac Athlaoich is an experiment of technique and colour, a journey into abstraction, a deep and personal experience, an unconscious automatism that takes life on the canvas. His painting is fluid, the ductus is full and free, moving on the surface without any obstacles. The creative subconscious of Mac Athlaoich gets out from between the authentic gesture of his brushstroke and the thin oil glazes that go to create a translucent painting whose surface is enriched with depth and shine. The final tone of colour is the result of a process that uses a stratified sequence of different tints that give birth to “variations of light”since, as Renaissance man Leon Battista Alberti pointed out, colours are manifestations of light.
The abstract composition produces liminal visual ‘capriccio’ between real and unreal, as in Joyce’s Ulysses the reader is incapable of distinguishing truth from fiction in the same way Colm Mac Athlaoich offers to the observer a new point of view, a new reality. Everything is subjective, everything that belongs to the phenomenal world is questioned, only through Gestalt perception can the perceived visual lead to the figurative. To overcome the absence of figuration the artist comes to the help of the onlooker, placing theatrical scenes at the confines of the image to create a decorative structure with architectural function. This function is capable of suggesting another realm, a scenic illusion, a perspective similar to Parrhasiusor the artist Antonello da Messina – exemplar of Flemish art in Renaissance Italy – who made use of the stage plan as an imaginative expedient.
Text by Valeria Ceregini
Author’s translation of «variazioni di lumi» from Leon Battista Alberti, De Pictura, 1435.
Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, Book 35:68, “Painting contest” between Zeuxis and Parrhasius, 77-78 AD.
Colm MacAthlaoich, Travelling Without Moving (5th – 8th July 2017, Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin IE).