An edited version of this text first appeared as an introduction to Maurice Desmond’s work on the Lavit Gallery web site.
Maurice Desmond is much possessed by a sense of the tragic. His last show, Flanders Fields in 2012, consisted of a series of brooding and evocative paintings that captured the atmosphere of that doom-laden place. These were deathscapes rather than landscapes. In this new show he continues to engage with the bleaker aspects of human existence. The skies are still eerie and troubled, the earth is still reddened with redundance of blood. These are landscapes without a consoling hint of the pastoral - they pulse with dark, entombed memories. But Desmond has always believed that the saddest songs are the sweetest and that we find, as Nietzsche asserted, “metaphysical solace” in art and music through the contemplation of the tragic. We find this in Greek Tragedy, in the music of Mahler, and in Shakespeare’s King Lear. You might think recent work inspired by a visit to Gougane Barra would bring some harmony and solace to counter this troubled vision. However what these new works indicate at best is the monumental implacability of nature – the stony indifference of the universe. While Desmond is now somewhat of an outsider on the art scene, he continues to create work that will endure beyond the current fads and fashions.
Lavit Gallery, Cork.
From 25th April 2019
John P. O’Sullivan