A Response to the Work in an Opening Talk - Joan Coen Visual Artist

To speak about the art work and in order to gain an understanding of it, I need to revert to the ancient Greek mind and in particular to Plato. Greeks interpreted the universe from the perspective of order.Plato saw the universe  as perfect expression of idea and form. The platonic forms are changeless absolutes, timeless and they underlie concrete reality admidst the chaos of life. These principles included  the mathematical forms of geometry and here we have a concrete expression of these forms in a work of art.

Each piece is an expression of the artist coming from the lived experience of life,  the world,  the environment    and his interpretation of it. One can say that the work has space as its foundation and time as its path. These two intersect as they do in life, they enclose shared territories. Space gives us the beginning of the world and is infinite. Time sets a limit, a boundary – a hard edge within the mystery of life. One cannot explain life but one can express it within the living of it. The life of an artist is given to the expression of experience – the experience of the soul. These works express simplicity – a honing has occurred, they are stripped to fundamentals, ordered but also open to the unexpected, this unexpected engages the viewer and challenges one to find meaning. There is a simplicity that is subtle, it is playful in that it holds a celebration of life. In having space as a foundation – a field of colour that has a rhythmic movement of time across it, a figure and ground relationship that is poetic – the work brings feeling and imagination to bear on reality, on the hard edge of form and life. A found piece enhances the artistic journey – a surprise find on the way, it creates a possibility and becomes a challenge to reason. It is the surprise that life throws up and one allows it to be in its individuality.

Denis takes the elements that are in the world and plays with them, his focus is on geometric forms, delight in space, seeing beauty in an angle, a line, a rectangle and placing it in a field of colour, throwing a shadow, playing with a sea of blue, allowing a story by a yellow pool, shifting a tension, hearing an echo as in a response to the architectural space of the gallery.

A painting deserves a viewing I ask that you give each one time.

Joan Coen / Siobhán Ní Shíthigh