Paul Cotter

Tír Eile

Paul Cotter
Tír Eile

Adrian Kelly

Another Country

Adrian Kelly is a painter and curator, born in 1968. He has lived his entire life in the North-West of Ireland, and since 2000 has been the curator of The Glebe Gallery, Churchill. He studied painting at Sligo RTC, and has exhibited widely, in Donegal.

DO’C: What is the inspiration behind these new works?

AK: I hadn’t painted seriously for about four or five years, because I had kids. I only paint during the winter, and I like to do four or five hours a day, but it was just too hard when the kids were small to get that time. I was sort of dabbling away but wasn’t getting anywhere. In that five years my work didn’t change at all, not even a little bit.

I hadn’t intended taking that break, but it was actually good for me, because when I finally came back to it I had no interest in continuing the work I’d done before. Whereas I would normally paint for the winter months, just because of the way my working year falls, that break of six months or so is short enough that you can pick up on the threads of the previous year. A break of five years meant that the slate was wiped clean, I was starting from scratch. The paintings I had done before that were on these small A4 canvas sheets, so I started off again, working into them, and from there things just got... bigger.

DO’C: These works feel like a progression from your earlier paintings, not only in scale, but in terms of ambition...

AK: I think so. I never worked with oils in college, and haven’t worked with anything else since, so the past twenty years have been about my coming to grips with oils. I was always drawn towards semi-abstract landscapes. I think because I painted during the winter months, and not the summer months, I never made any huge leaps of faith in the work - it was very incremental, and very gradual. There would be the odd one that I would think was okay, but I was never knocked out by it.

I think I recognised that I hadn’t necessarily made much of a progression up until now. I felt like I needed to take a few big chances. Not that this work is necessarily groundbreaking, but it’s very different for me. I also wanted to try and paint without paintbrushes. I go to car boot sales a lot, and I found a few things over the years that I liked and thought ‘I’m going to use these someday.’ I kind of thought they were too precious to use - in of themselves, they were nice objects, like printing blocks, or stamps, or those combs for getting a wood effect... Which I always thought was strange, they’re designed to make wood look more like wood (laughs). I used them all in these paintings.

DO’C: Was there a particular moment of creative breakthrough?

AK: Twelve or thirteen years ago, I made three big canvases, and got nowhere with them at all, and they’re the ones that sort of let me into this. Then, I had two big canvases that John Cunningham* left me when he went away,and I just got stuck into them, no more than that. I only had a limited number of canvases, so I had to stick at them until they went somewhere, I didn’t have the option of doing that thing that Howard Hodgkin** does where he has a lot of works in his studio, and he’ll spend a while on one, then turns it to face the wall and takes another one out - I didn’t have the luxury of having several things to stand back and look at. I just had two big canvases, and then, when they were finished, two medium-sized canvases. In those cases, I think I overworked them, because I had nothing else to do but overwork them (laughs). So last summer I bought a lot of canvases, so had plenty of things to work at through the winter. I don’t think I overworked them this time. I think plenty of them are undercooked.

DO’C: Were you influenced by any artists in particular?

AK: I’m a big fan of Josef Albers***, and the way that he would pick two or three colours, and the relationship between those colours would be really beautifully tuned. He has a wonderful book called The Interaction Of Colour, its a textbook, and he says that if you follow it that it will give you an instinctive knowledge of colour, that you will get to know which colours work together just by looking at them, as opposed to doing the sums, or using a colour wheel or whatever… it should come naturally. And men have a very bad colour memory. I liked that idea, of just having two or three colours beside each other. So I would underpaint the canvas, sometimes a very neutral colour, sometimes a strong one, and then pour these other colours down it. Sometimes they’re all like colour strips against the background colour, and then sometimes they’re strips with various different colours inside them.

DO’C: Has your painting schedule always been dictated by your working schedule? Or vice versa? (NB: The Glebe Gallery, which Adrian Kelly is the curator, closes during the winter months)

AK: I would be occasionally concerned that I’m painting in the dark, always working in artificial light, but there’s no other way to do it, that’s the situation and there’s no getting away from that. The work’s usually a wee bit brighter than I thought it was when I get it outside. I’ve usually overcompensated (laughs).

DO’C: Do you have a clear idea what you’re trying to express through your work?

AK: I never have a clear idea, but I think that’s okay. What I like about it is that I’m never going to be as good as I want to be, so it’s just going to be a constant journey… hopefully. I’ll never know it all, and that’s okay. I play the drums, and with music I would be really interested in expanding my vocabulary, whereas with painting I seem to be trying to limit it more and more.

In terms of what I do, the obvious thing for me to like would be geometric abstraction, and I don’t like it because there’s not enough emotion in it. I mean, there can be, but for the most part I think it’s just very clever… Maybe that’s not fair, but there’s a level of cleverness in it that I don’t want to have in my work.

DO’C: There’s a purity of sorts to these paintings...

AK: When you talk about the concept of purity, I always think you’re talking about minimalism, and these paintings are busy enough. I don’t think too much about them in advance. I would always rather not have an idea where they’re going and see what happens.

DO’C: How does your work as a curator affect your own ability to edit your own work?

AK: Very badly. A lot of time went into editing this work. I think somebody else always has to edit it. One job feeds the other, in the sense that I look at a lot of art, from the notion of ‘What’s that going to look like on a wall?’ I think that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Picture framers end up just looking at the frames, as opposed to the picture, you know? The tail can begin to wag the dog. When I’m curating an exhibition, I would be more interested in the exhibition, than the actual works, to the point where you might leave out things that are too challenging, because they can skew matters. I don’t think I fall into that trap a lot of curators do, when they have a pet theory, and they curate exhibitions to prove that theory, which can be a dangerous thing - opinion becomes fact. I always think that as a curator you should ask questions, as opposed to answer them. Let the viewer make up their own mind.

DO’C: How does working in Donegal inform you as an artist?

AK: There’s a lot going on right now. I think rather than being directly influenced by individuals, there’s just a great energy going around, a great buzz, and that’s what inspires me. You have to up your game when there’s people around, doing great work, in whatever discipline.

When I started working in The Glebe Gallery, there were two professional arts jobs in the whole of Donegal - now there are dozens. I remember leaving college, and it was really hard to find anyone to talk to about art, because everybody was very complimentary, and nobody would criticize you at all. Everybody thought it was brilliant that someone was doing it - whereas you could see yourself that a lot of what you were doing wasn’t great. People could be critical enough, they just didn’t want to be, whereas now people are happy to do it, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

There’s great support among the artistic community in Donegal, and a lot of cooperation between arts organizations - because there has to be. It’s not like Dublin, or London or New York, where people can head off in different directions: everybody has to row together. You can a bit of a hermit, and you can go off into your cave, and that’s very much an aspect of living here. But you have to be aware that you’re trying to communicate. The guitarist that never leaves the bedroom isn’t really a musician, no matter how good you are. You have to be true to yourself, but you have to make art for people.

DO’C: What are you trying to communicate?

AK: I really don’t know. I see myself as a painter, simple as that. I studied painting, and painting is very much looked down on by a lot of curators at the moment. I’m not a self-loathing painter, I like it a lot (laughs). If I were to really indulge myself in The Glebe Gallery, I would do a really beautiful painting exhibition. Just not one of my own work.

DO’C: You’re a musician as well. Do the two disciplines have anything in common?

AK: What playing music and painting have in common for me is that they’re both very physical exercises, rather than conceptual ones. Using your limbs as well as your mind. I love the smells - the smells of painting, as opposed to drumming (laughs).

DO’C: What do you hope that people experience when they see this work?

AK: I would hope that they’re moved by it. That would do it for me. That’s what art can do. Once you get past the politics and economics of the day, art is the stuff that’s left behind. When you think about the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, and all the horrible, terrible things that people went through, the art is all that remains.

Adrian Kelly

Tír Eile 

Adrian Kelly: Another Country 

 Is ealaíontóir agus coimeádaí é Adrian Kelly a rugadh sa bhliain 1968. Tá a shaol iomlán caite aige in Iarthuaisceart na hÉireann, agus ón bhliain 2000 ar aghaidh tá sé ina choimeádaí i nGailearaí na Gléibe i Mín an Lábáin. Rinne sé staidéar ar an phéintéireacht i gCeardcholáiste Réigiúnach Shligigh agus is iomaí taispeántas atá curtha ar fáil aige i nDún na nGall. 

Comhrá idir Derek O’Connor agus Adrian Kelly

DO’C: Cad é a bhí mar inspreagadh duit do na saothair úrnua seo?

AK: I ndáiríre, ní dhearna mé mórán péintéireachta ar feadh ceithre nó cúig de bhlianta siocair go raibh páistí agam. Is sa gheimhreadh amháin a bhím ag péinteáil agus is maith liom ceithre nó cúig huaire a chaitheamh ar an obair, ach bhí sé ró-dheacair am a fháil chun é sin a dhéanamh nuair a bhí na páistí an-óg. Bhí mé cineál ag gabháil dó ach ní raibh mé ag déanamh dul chun cinn ar bith. Sna cúig bliana sin, níor athraigh mo shaothar ar chor ar bith, fiú rud beag.

Ní raibh sé ar intinn agam an sos sin a ghlacadh ach caithfidh mé a rá go ndearna sé maitheas domh mar nuair a thosaigh mé arís ní raibh suim ar bith agam leanúint ar aghaidh leis an sórt ealaíne a bhí a dhéanamh agam roimhe sin. De ghnáth, bhínn ag péinteáil i rith míonna an gheimhridh, cionn is go raibh sin oiriúnach do mo bhliain oibre; bíonn an sos sin a mhaireann tuairim is sé mhí gairid go leor sa dóigh go dtig leat leanúint ar aghaidh ó shnáithe na blianta roimhe sin. Ach chiallaigh sos a mhair cúig bliana go raibh an scláta nite glan agus go raibh mé ag tosú as an nua. Bhí na pictiúir a rinne mé roimhe sin ar na canbháis bheaga A4 seo, agus dá bhrí sin thosaigh mé arís, ag saothrú isteach iontu, agus ó sin go díreach, d’éirigh rudaí níos mó.

DO’C: Mothaíonn na saothair seo cosúil le forchéimniú ar na pictiúir a rinne tú roimhe seo, ní amháin ar scála, ach i dtaca le huaillmhian...

AK: Sílim féin sin fosta. Nuair a bhí mé ar an choláiste, ní dhearna mé obair ar bith le hola ach ó shin i leith níor bhain mé úsáid as rud ar bith eile. I ndáiríre, mar sin de, tá fiche bliain caite agam ag dul i ngleic le hola. Bhí an-spéis i gcónaí agam i dtírdhreacha leath-theibí. Siocair go raibh mé ag péinteáil le linn míonna an gheimhridh agus chan i míonna an tsamhraidh, ní thug mé léim mhór chun cinn ar bith san obair – mhéadaigh sí de réir a chéile. Anois agus arís, dhéanainn saothar a mheasainn a bheith ceart go leor ach níor bhain sé biongadh riamh asam.

Sílim gur aithin mé nach ndearna mé mórán dul chun cinn go dtí seo. Mhothaigh mé go gcaithfinn dornán seansanna móra a ghlacadh. Is ar éigean is gá don obair seo a bheith nuálach, ach tá sé thar a bheith difriúil domsa. Lena chois sin, bhí mé i bhfách le péinteáil a dhéanamh gan aon scuab phéinteála. Téim chuig díolacháin as búit cairr go mion minic agus, thar na mblianta, fuair mé cúpla rud a raibh dúil agam iontu agus dar liom go mb’fhéidir go mbainfainn úsáid astu lá níos faide anonn. Shíl mé ar dhóigh amháin go raibh siad ró luachmar le húsáid – iontu féin,rudaí deasa a bhí iontu, macasamhail bloic nó stampaí priontála, nó na cíora sin lenar féidir cuma adhmaid a fháil... rud a shíl mé i gcónaí a bheith aisteach, tá siad deartha le cuma níos adhmadaí a chur ar adhmad (déanann sé gáire). Bhain mé úsáid astu i ngach ceann de na pictiúir seo.

DO’C: Raibh am ar bith faoi leith nuair a mhothaigh tú biseach ar an chruthaitheacht?

AK: Dhá bhliain déag, nó trí bliana déag ó shin, rinne mé trí chanbhás mór agus ní bhfuair mé áit ar bith leo ach is iadsan, b’fhéidir, a sheol mé ar an bhealach seo. Ansin, bhí dhá chanbhás mór agam a d’fhág John Cunningham* agam nuair a d’fhág sé, agus go díreach thosaigh mé orthu agus sin é. Ní raibh agam ach líon beag canbhás agus ar an tséala sin, b’éigean dom coinneáil leo go dtí go rachadh siad áit éigin. Ní raibh an rogha agam atá ag Howard Hodgkin** - bíonn sé ag obair ar chuid mhór saothar ina stiúideo, caitheann sé seal ar cheann amháin, ansin tiontaíonn sé aghaidh an phictiúr leis an bhalla agus tugann sé amach ceann eile – ní raibh sé d’ádh agamsa cúpla rud a bheith agam le seasamh siar uathu agus amharc orthu. Ní raibh agam ach dhá chanbhás mór, agus ansin, nuair a bhí siad críochnaithe, dhá chanbhás measartha mór. Sna cásanna sin, sílim go ndearna mé barraíocht oibre orthu siocair nach bhféadfainn gach ar bith eile a dhéanamh (gáire). Dá bhrí sin, cheannaigh mé cuid mhór canbháis i samhradh na bliana anuraidh sa dóigh go mbeadh neart le déanamh agam i rith an gheimhridh. Ní mheasaim go ndearna mé barraíocht oibre orthu an uair seo – i ndáiríre sílim nach ndearna mé go leor oibre ar chuid acu!

DO’C: An raibh tionchar ag aon ealaíontóir faoi leith ort?

AK: Tá mé iontach tógtha le Josef Albers***, agus an dóigh ina bpiocadh sé dhá nó trí dhath, agus bheadh na dathanna sin ag cur lena chéile go galánta. D’fhoilsigh sé téacsleabhar suntasach, dar teideal The Interaction Of Colour, agus má thugann tú aird air, a deir sé, beidh eolas instinneach agat ar dhathanna, agus beidh a fhios agat cad iad na dathanna a oibríonn le chéile go díreach le hamharc orthu, seachas a bheith ag tabhairt barúlacha nó ag úsáid roth na ndathanna nó slí ar bith eile… ba chóir do a theacht go nádúrtha. Agus, ar ndóigh, níl cuimhne rómhaith ag fir ar dhathanna. Bhí dúil agam sa smaoineamh sin, sé sin dhá nó trí dhath in aice lena chéile. Ar an tséala sin, chuirfinn bonndhath ar an chanbhás, corruair dath iontach neodrach, corruair dath láidir agus ansin chuirfinn na dathanna eile seo sa mhullach air. Corruair, tá an t-iomlán acu amhail le bandaí datha in éadan an dath sa chúlra, agus corruair eile tá siad amhail le bandaí ina bhfuil dathanna difriúla éagsúla laistigh dóibh.

DO’C: An mbíonn do sceideal péinteála ag brath ar do sceideal oibre i dtólamh? Nó a mhalairt? (NB: Bíonn Gailearaí na Gléibe, ina bhfuil Adrian Kelly ina choimeádaí, druidte i rith míonna an gheimhridh)

AK: Bím imníoch anois agus arís cionn is go mbím ag péinteáil sa dorchadas, i gcónaí ag obair faoi sholas saorga ach níl dóigh ar bith eile lena dhéanamh agus níl dóigh ar bith thart air sin. De ghnáth, amharcann an saothar níos gile ná mar a shíl mé nuair a thugaim amach faoin aer é. Go minic, bíonn barraíocht cúitimh déanta agam (gáire).

DO’C: An mbíonn barúil mhaith agat faoin rud atá tú ag iarraidh a chur in iúl i do shaothar?

AK: Ní bhíonn an smaoineamh soiléir riamh dom, ach sílim go bhfuil sin ceart go leor. Is é an rud is fearr liom fá dtaobh dóibh ná nach mbeidh mé choíche chomh maith is a ba mhaith liom a bheith agus ar an tséala sin, is aistear leanúnach atá i gceist… tá súil agam. Ní bheidh an t-iomlán ar eolas agam choíche, ach ní miste. Bím ag seinm ar na drumaí agus , ó thaobh an cheoil de, bheadh suim mhór agam mo stór a leathnú, ach ó thaobh na péintéireachta de, bím ag iarraidh é a theorannú níos mó agus níos mó, de réir cosúlachta.

I dtaca le mo shaothar de, tá sé follasach gurb é teibiú geoiméadrach a ba cheart dom dúil a bheith agam ann ach ní maith liom é siocair nach bhfuil go leor mothúchán ann. ‘Sé an rud atá mé a mhaíomh, go mb’fhéidir go bhféadfadh sin a bheith amhlaidh ach den mhórchuid sílim go bhfuil sé go díreach iontach cliste.… B’fhéidir nach bhfuil sé sin cóir, ach tá leibhéal clisteachta ann nach bhfuil mise ag iarraidh a bheith i mo shaothar féin.

DO’C: Tá sórt íonachta sna pictiúir seo...

AK: Nuair a labhraítear fá choincheap na híonachta, measaim i gcónaí go bhfuiltear ag caint fá íostachas, agus tá na pictiúir seo gnóthach go leor. Ní dhéanaim an iomarca smaoinimh orthu roimh ré. B’fhearr liom i dtólamh gan fios a bheith agam cá háit a bhfuil siad ag gabháil agus fanacht go bhfeicfidh mé cad a tharlóidh.

DO’C: Cén tionchar atá ag do chuid oibre mar choimeádaí ar do chumas eagarthóireacht a dhéanamh ar do shaothar féin?

AK: Droch thionchar. Caitheadh cuid mhór ama ar eagarthóíreacht na saothar seo. Sílim go gcaithfidh duine eile an eagarthóireacht a dhéanamh i gcónaí. Cothaíonn jab amháin an jab eile, sa chiall go bhféachaim ar mhórán saothar ealaíne agus go smaoiním ‘Conas a amharcfaidh sé nuair a bheidh sé crochta ar bhalla?’ Measaim gur rud maith é sin agus, ag an am céanna, gur rud olc é. Ní amharcann frámaitheoirí pictiúr ach amháin ar an fráma, seachas an pictiúr, tá’s agat. Tig le rudaí a ghabháil bun os cionn. Nuair a dhéanaim coimeádachas ar thaispeántas, bíonn níos mó spéise agam sa taispeántas ná mar a bhíonn agam sna saothair iad féin, go dtí sa deireadh go bhféadfadh duine rudaí atá ró dhúshlánach a fhágáil ar lár, cionn is go dtig leo nithe a chur ar fiar. Ní shílim go dtéim féin in abar sa ghaiste sin ina dtiteann cuid mhór coimeádaithe isteach ann, sé sin nuair atá teoiric faoi leith acu féin agus déanann siad coimheádachas ar thaispeántais ar mhaithe leis an teoiric sin a chruthú. Is féidir lena leithéid sin a bheith contúirteach – athraíonn barúil go fíric. Mar choimeádaí, tá mé den tuairim gur chóir ceisteanna a chur i gcónaí, seachas a bheith á bhfreagairt. Lig don lucht féachana a n-intinn féin a dhéanamh suas.

DO’C: Cén éifeacht atá ag Dún na nGall ar do chuid oibre mar ealaíontóir?

AK: Tá a lán ag gabháil ar aghaidh i láthair na huaire. In ionad a bheith go díreach faoi thionchar dhaoine aonair, tá fuinneamh ar dóigh amuigh ansin, borradh iontach, agus is é sin a thugann inspreagadh dom. Caithfidh tú iarracht a dhéanamh barr feabhais a bhaint amach nuair atá daoine eile ag déanamh obair mhór, ní miste cén disciplín a n-oibríonn siad ann.

Nuair a thosaigh mé ag obair i nGailearaí na Gléibe, ní raibh ach dhá phost sna healaíona gairmiúla i nDún na nGall – anois tá cuid mhór ann. Nuair a d’fhág mé an choláiste, tá cuimhne agam go raibh sé iontach deacair duine ar bith a fháil le labhairt faoin ealaín – bhí siad go léir iontach moltach agus ní cháinfeadh duine ar bith tú ar chor ar bith. Shíl gach uile dhuine go raibh sé go hiontach go raibh duine éigin a dhéanamh – ach thiocfadh leat féin a thuiscint nach raibh an obair a bhí tú a dhéanamh thar mholadh beirte. D’fhéadfadh daoine a bheith cáinteach go leor, ach níor mhaith leo é sin a dhéanamh. Ach san am i láthair, níl drogall ar bith ar dhaoine cáineadh a dhéanamh, agus ar ndóigh ní rud olc é sin.

Tá tacaíocht mhór i measc pobal na n-ealaíon i nDún na nGall, agus cuid mhór tacaíochta idir na heagraíochtaí ealaíon – siocair go gcaithfidh sé sin a bheith amhlaidh. Níl sé cosúil le Baile Átha Cliath, nó Londain nó Nua-Eabhrac, áiteanna ina dtig le daoine a mbealach féin a dhéanamh: anseo, caithfidh gach uile dhuine brath ar a chéile. Féadfaidh tú a bheith cineál cosúil le díthreabhach agus imeacht leat isteach i do phluais, agus is é sin gné láidir de bheith i do chónaí anseo. Ach ní mór duit a thuiscint go bhfuil tú ag iarraidh cumarsáid a dhéanamh. Ní ceoltóir i ndáiríre atá sa ghiotáraí nach bhfágann a sheomra leapa, ní miste cé chomh maith is atá sé. Caithfidh tú a bheith dílis duit féin, ach ag an am céanna caithfidh tú ealaín a chruthú do dhaoine.

DO’C: Cén sórt cumarsáide atá tú ag iarraidh a dhéanamh?

AK: Níl a fhios agam i gceart. Amharcaim orm féin mar phéintéir, chomh simplí sin. Rinne mé staidéar ar phéintéireacht, agus san am i láthair tá drocmheas ag mórán coimeádaithe ar an phéintéireacht. Níl drochmheas ar bith agam orm féin mar phéintéir, tá dúil mhór agam ann (gáire). Dá mbeinn iontach tógtha le mo chuid oibre i nGailearaí na Gléibe agus gan srian ar bith orm, chuirfinn taispeántas péintéireachta fior-ghalánta ar fáil – ach chan de mo shaothar féin.

DO’C: Is ceoltóir thú fosta. Bhfuil aon rud coitianta idir an dá dhisciplín?

AK: I ndáil le seinm ceoil agus péintéireacht, glacaim leis gur aclaíocht thar a bheith fisiceach, seachas coincheapúil, atá sa bheirt. Tá tú ag úsáid do ghéaga chomh maith le d’intinn. Tá dúil mhór agam sa bholadh – boladh na péintéireachta, seachas an drumadóireacht (gáire).

DO’C: Cén cineál eispéireas a bhfuil tú ag súil le daoine a bheith acu nuair a fheicfidh siad an saothar seo?

AK: Bheinn ag súil go mbeadh tionchar céadfach aige orthu. Shásódh a leithéid sin mé. Thig le healaín é sin a dhéanamh. Nuair amháin a gheobhaidh tu thairis na polatíochta agus eacnamaíochta an ama, níl fágtha ach an ealaín. Má chuimhníonn tú ar na Meánaoiseanna agus ar Ré na hAthbheochana, agus na rudaí millteanacha, gránna a d’fhulaing daoine, níl fágtha ach an ealaín.

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