The importance of interaction, and idleness
Visual art: Six short films by Lola Gonzàlez; plus Nataly Maiar, Janet Mullarney and Helen O’Leary
Ozio: Nataly Maiar, Janet Mullarney, Helen O’Leary
Taylor Galleries, Dublin
Ozio translates loosely as “sloth”, but Janet Mullarney, the driving force behind this three-person show, has more in mind a generative, thoughtful idleness, the momentary calm that allows ideas to percolate and lead one off in an unexpected direction. And the ideas do percolate here, from Helen O’Leary’s playful reconfigured paintings to Nataly Maier’s distillation of the classical frieze, the work on view is enormously varied in its physical form and its conceptual reach.
Mullarney has embraced the spirit of ozio, notably in embarking on a series of collages and ceramic sculptures both based on the form of a conical peak. Her starting point was “a very old sketch done on a very old envelope”. Think of the flap of an envelope, translate it into three dimensions and you have your cone. Then – and this is, frankly, speculative – add René Daumal’s unfinished, posthumously published surreal novel Mount Analogue, centred on an attempt to scale a peak that flickers in and out of visibility and accessibility, a metaphysical mountain that may connect earth and heaven, the mundane and the transcendent. It’s a line of interpretation that accords well with Mullarney’s inclination towards surrealism and allegory.
Her feeling for materials is sure, and also daring, qualities that hold for her two companions as well. O’Leary dismantles painting and then rebuilds it from scratch. All the traditional materials are there – wood, fabric, paint and a bit more – but reconsidered and recombined in structures that are evident records of her process. The works have a fragility, an exploratory delicacy, but also appear curiously durable and timeless.
Maier, German by birth though based in Italy, originally trained as a photographer, though she went on to amalgamate photography with sculpture and painting. Light and colour are central.Her main contribution to Ozio is an excellent, whole-room installation, a frieze made up of a succession of small watercolour abstracts lining the walls, each composed of three horizontal bands of colour. The colours, painted with egg tempera, she accumulated over years. They are drawn from mostly Renaissance paintings in European museums, and they set a mood, an atmosphere, to a degree that belies their modest scale. Ozio is a beguiling slow burner of an exhibition.