Monday, November 07, 2011

Vue at the RHA: Observations

All creatures great and small from the Irish art scene turned up last Thursday at the RHA for Vue - a showcase for the leading contemporary Irish art galleries, not to be confused with the decidedly inferior Art Fair at the RDS. The attendance included Frank B. and the immaculately turned out Michael, Eamon the journalist, Campbell B. looking more spry than I've seen him for a while, Suzanne, Ger with fez, that tall languid guy with the long floppy grey hair, Mary late of the Hallward, big Eoin from IMMA, and of course J. (looking out for someone more important than the person she's talking to).

It seemed more a social than a selling scene - there was a huge turnout and a great buzz, but a definite dearth of red spots. The Taylor Gallery just inside the entrance to the main room seemed to belie this impression as they displayed five or six sold pieces - these however turned out to be tiny David Quinn works at €130 each. What a falling off was here from the halcyon days of Le Brocquy and O'Malley at their peak pulling power.

Moving on from the Taylor stand we came to the Rubicon Gallery which seemed to focus exclusively on Donald Teskey - not a bad thing I'd say. They were doing a roaring trade in his beautiful book of Connemara images (Donald gamely signing and schmoozing). The the stand displayed a fine selection of his oils, etchings and watercolours. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a gallery devoted to the work of one artist - but you wouldn't of course say this within hearing of the formidable Josephine lest a basilisk's retribution ensue. Two of the most impressive displays were the print works available from the Graphic Studio and the Stoney Road Press. In both cases the late lamented Bill Crozier's work loomed large but they had a lot more on offer. Nearby the Oliver Sears space was dominated by a fine Joseph Walsh glass-topped table on which I had to deter a couple of bibulous art matrons from depositing their glasses.

The amiable Paul Kane, looking a tad wan and fatigued, was attracting the very large gay vote. I like the way he pitches his prices but he desperately needs to look at his cheap and tatty labeling. A small thing but significant in a visually sophisticated milieu. The Kerlin was represented by a shorn David who is now looking to the burgeoning art scene in Abu Dhabi. Most galleries are now looking abroad for sales (especially London and New York) but this was a new one on me. Around the corner was Nicholas Gore-Grimes from the Crosse Gallery looking absurdly young. He's recently performed a cull on his stable of artists that included the fragrant Siobhan McDonald and the doughty Bridget Flannery. including the doughty Bridget Flannery. "Good for them and good for me" he reckoned.

Other things to catch my eye were a fine Le Brocquy etching of Seamus Heaney on sale at the IMMA stand for a mere €1,200; and a striking red heart-shaped organic piece by Eilis O'Connell.