For Immediate Release
TROUBLES AT HOME:
March 17 through April 14, 2007
Track 16 Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition, Troubles at Home: paintings by Irish artist, Michelle Rogers; curated by Irish/American producer/director Robert Ginty. The exhibition will run from March 17 through April 14, 2007, with an opening reception on Saturday, March 17 from 6 to 9 P.M.
. . . We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The Stare's Nest by My Window––William Butler Yeats
There is a sense of quiet bewilderment and loss in this collection of paintings, which reflect upon the very divisive concept of patriotism. Rogers draws comparisons between her own experiences growing up on the border of Northern Ireland during the most violent years of the troubles, and America’s vulnerability post-September 11.
After the attacks on 9/11, Americans became defiantly patriotic - flags started appearing in apartment windows, building lobbies, t-shirts and stickers. Seeking guidance and reassurance, the wounded nation rallied behind the government, trusting in its leadership and authority. What they did not expect was for their government to manipulate that trust, and destroy the American ideal in the process, in ways even its enemies could not have predicted: the surreptitious Patriot Act; the war in Iraq; Guantanamo Bay; Abu Ghraib . . . Suddenly, many Americans weren’t feeling quite so proud.
This resonated with Michelle. “As an Irish woman, I love my country too. But during the troubles at home it angered me to see how that love became usurped, and then tarnished by terrorism.”
In response questions of national identity and religious idealism, Michelle has created a series of large-scale oil paintings for ‘Troubles At Home’. The thickly painted canvases seem to trap their unsuspecting figures, and at once detach and isolate them from their surroundings. They are painted in strong shadow, sometimes with a searing light surrounding them denoting a strong psychological conflict.
For more information, please visit our website archive.track16.com.Artist Biography
Michelle Rogers grew up in a small-industrialized town in Ireland called Dundalk on the strained border between North and the South, at the height of the troubles. As an artist, although it inspired her, she chose not to dwell on the conflict so close to home. Her earliest paintings centered on the Gulf War, and it was in response to this work that Amnesty International selected her to go to Bosnia in 1993. This trip was the impetus for a Dark Heart an impressive series of paintings about the darker side of human nature in which, according to Nicholas Bergman, curator at New York’s Caelum Gallery “she sensitively creates a mood of moral decay, of spiritual darkness and despair, [and] there is, simultaneously, a grandeur to the work, which, harks back to the masters - Goya in particular.” Her paintingProcession Srebenica, won the prestigious Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) prize for the Most Promising Young Talent of 1997 in Dublin. Mary Carr writing in The Evening Herald referred to it as "magnificent." More recently, in 2003, she won a commission to produce a painting for Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Entitled Out of the Shadows the work honors the contribution of women to university life. That same year, she was invited to show her painting 911 Memorial, a tribute to the events of September 11th, at the Irish Arts Center in New York. In 2005, A Dark Heart was selected for exhibition at the UN Plaza in New York, marking the 10th anniversary of the Balkan war, and last year her critically acclaimed series Transformations 1, 2 and 3 exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Guadalajara, Mexico. Without question, Rogers is unique among Irish artists, in that her work is hard-hitting and confrontational, dealing with tough subject matters such as war, emigration and sexual repression.
She currently divides her time between Rome, New York and Dublin.
Curated by Robert Ginty
Michelle Rogers aligns herself with Jack Butler Yeats and Samuel Beckett in saying “the artist brings light as only they dare to bring light to the issueless predicament of existence.” In her most recent body of work she focuses on the “everyman” we see in the streets of New York–the working class.
Distinguished by the energetic simplicity of line and color, in the tradition of Irish artists Tony O’Malley, Louis Le Brocquy, and Basil Blackshaw, Rogers most recent paintings demonstrate an extremely vigorous and experimental treatment of often thickly applied paint, while being deeply invested in the expressionistic power of color. There is a determination to test the possibilities of a contemporary vision that challenges the Irish art establishment, some of whom still have not come to terms with post-impressionism let alone the shock of modernity.
Rogers finds a way without preaching or pandering to take up urgent aspects of the human condition. The audience must take on the role of searching for meaning and becoming actively involved in making literal sense of the feelings her paintings arouse. Her work brings to mind Jack Butler Yeats’s most famous painting and rare political statement, A Bachelor’s Walk in Memory, which illustrates a specific incident that he mentioned in his diary: a flower girl placing her own offering on the scene of a killing– a site Yeats visited the day after it occurred in 1914. It has become a symbol of the archetypical Irish woman, mourning her lost men both literally, in wars and rebellion, and metaphorically through the piercing sadness of constant immigration. It could also symbolize the decisions many Irish artists made before taking their long journeys away from home.
Rogers’s technique carefully provides just enough visual detail to adequately set the general scene offering no precise or linear details for their own sake. A dramatic feeling of forbidding dominates, as this natural power assembles with a minimal color palate, moves with a purpose, resulting in a sense of mystery.––Robert Ginty