Paul Cotter

Seán Cathal

Paul Cotter
Seán Cathal

Seán Cathal

“Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?”

Mar theideal, tá an phrása seo...”cad a ba chóir dom grá a bheith agam dó murab é an dubhfhocal é féin” ina dhóigh fhoirfe chun an saothar sa taispeántas seo a thuiscint agus a fheiceáil.

Tá an saothar pearsanta agus uilíoch le chéile ina chuid tagairtí. Tá mórán d’eilimintí gach saothar inmhínithe ar chuid mhór leibhéil. I dtús báire, tá a fhios an ealaíontóir caidé tá i gceist aige agus caidé atá beartaithe aige leis an saothar.. ach neamhchosúil le go leor ealaíontóirí eile, is féidir lena ábhar rochtain a bheith aige, ina thuairim féin, ar an bhreathnóir le héascaíocht chothrom thuisceana. Sin le rá, á dtuiscint. Ar ndóigh, cén dóigh a mbeadh fhios ag duine caidé atá in intinn duine eile. Tá a fhios ag déantóirí rudaí físiúla, bíodh siad péintéireacht, dealbhóireacht, grafaíocht nó dearaí, go bhfeiceann an tsúil ar dtús agus ansin go mbaineann an inchinn ciall as. Má théitear ag ceolchoirm, amharclann, ceoldráma nó fiú seirbhís eaglaise, feiceann duine ar dtús agus ansin cluintear.

Tá an t-ealaíontóir Seán Cathal ina phéintéir meitifisiciúil i bhfadh níos mó ná péintéir insint siocair go láimhseálann sé na chéad phrionsabail de rudái, ar a n-áirítear an coincheap, nó na coincheapanna, de bheith beo, feasacht, spás, agus – go ríthabhachtach dó-san – féinaitheantas. Cé go bhfuil a chuid tagairtí pictiúrtha an-phearsanta, tá siad Eorpach chomh maith sa bhrí go bhfuil sé in ann creatlaí samhlaíocha a chur le chéile laistigh de phrionsabail Arastaileacha den bheith agus den fheasach. Cinnte! Cuimsíonn sé mórán tagairtí físiúla a bhfuil gné luchtaithe áitiúil acu, nó sraith gnéithe, ach a léirmhíníonn seisean i gcreatlach i bhfadh níós leitheadaí. Baineann sé úsáid as tarraingt líneach, maraon le heilimíntí de láimhseáil pictiúrtha en grisaille, rud a réitíonn roinnt dá chuid eilimíntí comhdhéanaimh nach bhféadfadh plánaí níos leitheadaí a sheachadadh.

Ach, sin ráite, tá sé fosta in ann ruathar a dhéanamh ar comhréir an nua-aoiseachais, leithéidí cúibeachas sintéiseach, ina bhfuil sé ábalta creatlaí soiléir a thógáil den ábhar sin atá sé i bhfách le cur chun tosaigh le neart agus sóiléireacht.

I gcuid den ealaíon, tá fiarcháilíocht tagartha nach fíneáltacht seintimeinte amháin atá i gceist faoin cheist ach mian, a chreidim, chuin ligint don bhreathnóir an saothar a fheiceáil i dtreo na tagairtí a thuiscint. Níl a dhlínse ábhair inste sa chiall cur chuige Tréadach nó Tírdhreacha, ach i dtírdhreach inmheánach a chreideann sé go mbeidh an breathnóir ábalta a thuiscint, cé nach n-aithníonn sé go hiomlán gur une vie intérieure atá ann de dhialóg leanúnach leisean. Is ionann an vie intérieure fosta lena phróiseas féin de choilíniúchán ar a spéiseanna féin agus ar a thuiscint ar rudaí seachtracha. Tugann cuid mhór ealaíontóirí Éireannacha an próiseas sin i dtreo eile, go mórmhór chun a gcomhréir tírdhreacha a dhéanamh a l’explication de texte.

Bhí am ann nuair nár measadh ach Cézanne mar fhoinse nua-aoiseachais, ach de bharr mórán próisis chultúrtha eile, shaoraigh an teilifís agus an cineama chomh maith leis an ríomhaire rudaí físiúla ón seaicáid ceangail sin.

Lena chois sin, tá an ní dá chud oibre, lena gciallaíonn an scríbhneoir seo a mhóthú de cháilíocht fhisiceach agus próiseas a sheachadaíonn a fhuinneamh san amharcíomhá. Dúirt mé níos luaithe go dtugann an breathnóir a fhíseach féin chuig a cuid oibre, ag dul thairis a léiriú den íomhá agus a ghlacadh chuige féin, á, más maith leat, mhothú ama, feasachta agus daonnachta.

Choimhéad mé a chuid oibre don taispeántas ag fabhrú thar roinnt blianta agus a dhiongbháilteacht é a thabhairt i dtús báire chun a áit féin agus ligint do oibriú amach ó sin. Cuaigh Oifigeach Ealaíona Chontae Dhún na nGall agus Coimeádaí an Ghailearaí, Úna Campbell, i gcomhcheilg le chéile, i ndóigh ealaíonta, chun go dtarlódh an taispeántas. Tá moladh tuillte acu beirt ar shon an turas fionnachtana seo. Tá níos mó le rá ag Seán Cathal agus níl anseo ach céim amháin sa phróiseas sin. Mar mhac d’ealaíontóirí, le stair fhada phéintéireacht de Dhún na nGall agus ceangal ársa athartha le Gleann Cholm Cille, chuir sé eiteoga ar mo chroí a fheiceáil ag nochtadh. Go dtí go mbeidh seo léite aige, ní bheadh fhios ag an ealaíontóir fá mo ghinealach athartha as Dún na nGall, siocair gur mheas mé i gcónaí go bhféadfadh a leithéid d’eolas tionchar a bheith ar cheachtar againn sa treo aeistéitiúil mícheart.

Nuair a bhí mé ag amharc ar a chuid oibre ina stiúideo, ag amharc amach ar Inis Siar, smaoinigh mé ar m’óige i gConamara le mo thuismitheoirí éalaíonta (atá anois ina luí taobh le taobh sa reilig ag amharc amach ar Dheisceart Chonamara go deo) agus smaoinigh mé go bhfuil an domhan ciorclach, tá sé uilig ciorclach. Is iomáí lúbán a ghlac Seán Cathal ar an bhealach le fáil comh fada is atá sé anois lena chuid oibre. Scríobh an Naomh mór sin, Agaistín, uair amháin.. “is fearr i bhfad taisteal i ndóchas ná áit a shroicheadh”. De bhrí go bhféadfaimis neamhbhásmhaireacht a bheith ionainn, creidim go bhfuil sin ag ealaíontóirí as cuimse, mairfidh a gcuid saothair fhad is a mhairfeas an domhan.

Agus anois, mar a dúirt Ó Raifteiri ina dhán mór “Anois le teacht an earraigh”

“Is tar éis na Féile Bríde, ardóidh mé mo sheol....”

Ciáran MacGonigal
Meathas Troim
Feabhra 2017

Seán Cathal

“Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?”

As a title this phrase...”what should I love if not the enigma itself” is a perfect way to understand and see the work in this exhibition.

The work is at once personal and universal in its references. Many of the elements of each work are explicable at many levels. First the painter knows what he means and intended by the work . . but unlike many other painters his subject can also, in his opinion, be approached by the viewer with equal facility of understanding. That is to say, their understanding. After all who can truly know what lies in another’s mind. Makers of visual things, be they paintings, sculptures, graphics or designs know that the eye sees first and the brain interprets it. Going to a concert, theatre, opera or even a church service, one sees first and then hears.

The painter Seán Cathal is so much more of a metaphysical painter than one of narrative in that he deals with the first principles of things, including the abstract concept or concepts of being, knowing, time, space and, crucially for him, identity. His pictorial references whilst highly personal, is also European in his ability to construct imaginative frameworks within Aristotelian principles of being and knowing. Yes! He includes many visual references which have a locally charged element or series of elements but are interpreted by him in a much broader framework. His use of linear delineation, as well as elements of en grisaille pictorial treatments which solves some of his compositional elements which broader planes of elements might not deliver.

But, having said that, he is also able to raid the syntax of early modernism such as synthetic cubism within which he can construct coherent frameworks of that very subject he wishes to convey with force and clarity. There is in some of the paintings an oblique quality of reference, which isn’t just a delicacy of sentiment around or about the subject, but a desire, I believe, to allow the viewer of the work to work their way towards an understanding of the references.

His subject material is not narrative in the sense of a Pastoral or Landscape approach, but an internal landscape which he believes the viewer will come to understand if not entirely recognise as being that of une vie intérieure and one of a continuous dialogue by him. This vie intérieure is also his own process of colonising his interests and his awareness of external things. Many of painters who are Irish take that process in another direction, mostly in making their landscape syntax as their l’explication de texte.

There was a time when only Cézanne was regarded as the fount of modernism, but so many other cultural processes, not least television and cinema as well as the computer have liberated visual things from that straitjacket.

There is also the thingness of his work, by which this writer means his sense of the physical quality and process which delivers its punch in the visual. I’d mentioned earlier that the viewer brings their own vision to his work, bypassing his rendering of the image and making it their own, their, if you like, sense of time, knowing and being.

I have watched his work for the exhibition evolve over some years and his utter determination to bring it first to his own place and let it work outwards from there. The Arts Officer of Donegal County and the Curator of the Gallery Úna Campbell have, in an artistic sense, conspired to make it happen. They are to be commended for this voyage of discovery. Seán Cathal has more to say, and this is but a stage in that process. As they son of painters, with a long painting history of Donegal and having an ancient paternal line from Glencolmcille it was a great thrill to me to see it unfold. Until he reads this the artist will not have known of my paternal lineage from Donegal, as I always thought that such considerations might have influenced either of us in the wrong æsthetic direction.

When I was looking at the work in his studio looking out to Inis Siar I bethought myself to my childhood in Connemara with my painter parents (who now lie side by side looking out to South Connemara forever in their burial place) and thought the world is circular, it is all circular. Seán Cathal has taken many’s the lubán on the road to get to where he is now with his work. That great Saint, Augustine once wrote..”it is a greater thing to travel in hope than it is to arrive”.

Inasmuch as we may have immortality, I believe artists have it in full measure, their works endureth as long as the world endures.

And now, as Ó Raifteiri wrote in his great poem “Anois le teacht an earraig”

“Is tar eis na Féile Bríd, ardóig me mo sheol....”

Ciáran MacGonigal
Meathas Troim
Feabhra 2017


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