Wednesday, May 01, 2013

John Doherty at Taylor Galleries

An edited version of this review appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 28 April.

Parke's Chemist, Clonmel
John Doherty's photo-realism is so rigorous and accurate that you often struggle to confirm he's painting rather than taking photographs.  But this precision alone does not constitute art.  What's special about his work is its haunting quality, the mood its subject matter invokes.  There is a sense of failed aspirations - of something washed up and redundant.  It could be a beached buoy, an obsolete petrol pump, or a neglected shop in small-town Ireland.  His world is one where hope has faded.  As if to confirm this impression, his latest show features two old bookies shops - veritable repositories of lost hopes.

The exhibition takes us on tour of Ireland, recording for posterity artefacts and businesses that are past the point of rescue. There's the poignant incompetence of the lettering on the Bargain Stores in Abbeyfeale - its window full of plaster religious icons; a scathed petrol pump in Kilkenny; and an elegant old chemist shop in Clonmel (see image) desecrated with garish advertisements for pain killers.  And not a soul in sight in any of these towns except for some shadowy figures behind windows.

Taylor Galleries,
Mon-Fri: 10am-5.30pm
Sat: 11am-3pm
tel: 01 676 6055