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Eva Rothschild

Charlemont House, Parnell Square North
May 23, 2014–September 21, 2014

View of “Eva Rothschild,” 2014.

Playful and subversive, yet completely assured in execution, Eva Rothschild’s series of installations at the Hugh Lane Gallery hint at a retelling of the history of sculpture. Klassix, 2013, has the appearance of a Doric column, topped with a hunk of rock. And yet it is black, and the broken segments of a fellow column lying at the base are revealed to have cores of red and green, like giant licorice candies. In Hometeam, 2014, huge Olympic rings—or could they be basketball hoops?—seem to hang in space. Look closer to discover they are supported on steel struts, hidden by long leather strips.

Starting out from the primarily male-dominated tradition of monumental Minimalism from the 1960s and ’70s, Rothschild adds wit, color, and works with a variety of materials—leather, steel, Jesmonite, wood, resin, and ceramic—to disrupt that tradition. In Do-nut (Wakefield), 2011, a large circular ring is segmented and rendered Gaudiesque with sleekly glittering ceramic mosaics in black and red. The formality of the piece is broken and undermined.

As demonstrated by her 2009 Duveens commission for Tate Britain—in which she set a single sculpture to snake through the 230-foot-long space—Rothschild is keenly aware of sculpture’s power to alter our sense of space. In her current exhibition, that awareness is echoed on a smaller scale in Lantern (Dublin), 2014, a winding colored line made from aluminum lengths linked with small steel rings, which forms a boundary within one of the gallery’s rooms that corrals the sculptures inside it. Across town, as part of the “Vestibule” project in Merrion Square, Rothschild’s Someone and Someone, 2008, is a ludic, brightly colored arch, inviting movement, interaction, contemplation: all the good things.

Gemma Tipton

Mark Clare

Emmet Place
September 13, 2014–November 1, 2014

Mark Clare, For All Mankind, 2011, photographic light stands, kitchen timers, tin-foil, nuts and bolts, dimensions variable.

Concerned with the forces and systems that shape and observe us, Mark Clare’s practice easily seems to span disparate elements, but with good curation, it yields a satisfying thesis. Remote Control Technologies, 2011 is a large blue box on wheels housing a video screen, a reconstruction of a 1950s–era portable air-traffic control tower used in the Korean War. Nearby, Ping Pong Diplomacy, 2008—a wooden Ping-Pong table with paddles—refers to a Time magazine–heralded breakthrough in US-China relations in 1971, when the Chinese government issued invitations to US table-tennis players, thawing the longstanding chill between the two nations.

Among Clare’s works that draw attention to the creative strategies enabling and driving global relations, a standout is For All Mankind, 2011, a forest of rotating satellite-style dishes. Incorporating ticking kitchen timers, the work alludes to surveillance and knowledge gathering on Earth and beyond. Upstairs, the emphasis shifts to our relationship with the natural world. MonoCulture, 2014, is a network of brass pipes joining at an empty beehive, as if to highlight the often detrimental impact of our created systems on the environment.

Threaded through are references to the role artists have played in political and social history. The video The World Could Wait No Longer, 2010, restages a 1980s manifesto issued by the Orange Alternative, a Polish underground protest group. “The only solution for the future and for the present day is in Surrealism,” announces the speaker, a position particularly resonant in our current age, as geopolitics engenders and normalizes the most unexpected juxtapositions and alliances.

Gemma Tipton

Marilyn Lerner

Kilkenny Castle
August 9, 2014–October 5, 2014

Marilyn Lerner, Eight Ovals, 2011, oil on wood, 22 x 30".

For anyone who’s been harboring a sneaking suspicion that hard-edged geometric abstraction might be a little—how to put this?—passé, Marilyn Lerner demonstrates its enduring energy: She mines the full potential of this genre of painting with a series of explorations into color, form, and spatial harmonics.

The exhibition is cleverly developed. Beginning with the relative restraint of Pink Center for S.M., 2012, a painting depicting a series of concentric circles, the show gathers energy through the galleries to break out into the full-on psychedelic exuberance of Eight Ovals, 2011, by the final room. There, the titular shapes seem to dance, connected by wavy lines, orbiting a colorful central grid like wild planets, held with a surety of perfect placement in a moment between stasis and frenetic energy.

Lerner’s interest in music, non-Western cultures, and spiritualism is evident in the work, and the spirit of Hilma af Klint hovers over everything. So too does the legacy of Josef Albers. Maze, 2013, is perhaps the most Albers-like of the works, deploying nested rectangles, while Door, 2010, could be Albers on acid: There are frame-like regions of color at its core, but over this, Lerner has lain a riotous array of circles, each exploring Albers’s own theses on how color shifts perception. The New York–based Lerner has been exhibiting since the 1960s, and while she’s continued to make bold geometric abstractions, her latest work is nonetheless utterly fresh and thrilling.

Gemma Tipton

Elaine Byrne

Carnegie Building, Pery Square
September 26, 2014–November 18, 2014

Elaine Byrne, Walking Sculptures, 2014, wood, chains. Installation view, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick, 2014.

In 1939, architect, artist, theorist, and theater designer Frederick Kiesler presciently coined the term correalism to refer to the interaction between people and their natural and technological surroundings. This installation by Elaine Byrne addresses the relevance of that concept for our contemporary world. RAUM, 2013, recreates Kiesler’s De Stijl–inspired wooden scaffolding and panel-display structure Raumstadt (City in Space)—originally shown in the Grand Palais, Paris in 1925—as a smaller display for photographs of an abandoned Irish cottage, as well as objects taken from that house, such as an old chair, a snow globe, and a battered figurine. Two early-twentieth-century realities abut here: one, a utopian ideal of the future, the other embodied by decayed artifacts of a rural lifestyle now passing out of living memory—grounding modernist theories of aesthetics in the context of the messier realities of life.

Byrne’s work instigates an active experience of space. For instance, in Walking Sculptures, 2014, Byrne presents four tree trunks hanging from heavy chains with texts burnt all over the wood—including passages from Thomas Moore, Gertrude Stein, and Kiesler himself—fulfilling the latter’s dictum that walking around sculpture makes one part of the work and deliciously disrupting the more conventional observer and observed relationship typically engendered by art. Fathoming Space, 2014, features four videos from an experiment conducted by the artist where participants wore a magnetically calibrated belt. In each video, an actor narrates a participant’s experience, with one saying, “I suppose I was hoping for some sort of something that hadn’t been there before.” It is a hope this exhibition intriguingly fulfills with an imperative against the passive consumption of art coupled with a call for a closer examination of existence.

Gemma Tipton