Crystal ball gazing can be tricky, as good on paper doesn’t always equate to good in person, but there’s still plenty to tickle the artistic fancy coming up in 2024. One of these exhibitions has already opened; the other nine should be well worth waiting for.

RDS Visual Art Awards

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, until March 3rd, rds.ie and imma.ie

For one of the best-thought-out art awards, the RDS sends curators and selectors around art-school graduation shows the length and breadth of Ireland. In the past the resulting exhibition was up for too short a time at the RDS itself; more recently it was at the RHA; it now gets the duration it deserves with three months at Imma. This year the awards exhibition has been curated by Elaine Hoey. Discover the work of Àjàó Babátúndé Lawal, Anthony Freeman O’Brien, Asha Murray, Christopher McMullan, Cian Handschuh, Emily Waszak, Grace Ryan, Jinny Ly, Laura Grisard, Luis Enrique Martín, Nikolas Ryan, Oisín Tozer, Ren Coffey, Saoirse McGarry and Taïm Haimet at the very start of their careers.

Mollie Douthit

Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, January 27th-March 24th, butlergallery.ie

Known for a style that hovers between dream and reality (dreamy realism, perhaps?), Mollie Douthit says that her paintings expose “the file cabinet of my mind”. This major solo show at the Butler will be a chance to see a new body of work and get a stronger sense of the cumulative power of her paintings, which the artist has been expanding from small and intimate focuses on singular moments to embrace fictional elements and hints of imagined pasts.

A Matter of Time

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, February 17th-June 3rd, crawfordartgallery.ie

Exploring the nature of time and human experience, more than 20 artists will get to grips with life, the universe and everything, taking in climate change, hope, memory, postcolonialism, death and all those other enormous topics that we daily wrestle with – or choose to sweep under our mental carpets. Including works by Nick Miller, Nedko Solakov, Daphne Wright, Elaine Byrne, Patrick Scott, Cecily Brennan, Ursula Burke, Joy Gerrard, Sara Baume and more, this should be the final exhibition at the Crawford before the gallery closes in advance of its redevelopment by Grafton Architects. While the core of the building will remain, former students of the old college of art there will particularly want to say their wistful – or delighted – goodbyes to the lecture theatre and other, possibly more secret spots.

Colin Martin: Empathy Lab

Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Co Louth, March 2nd-April 13th, highlanes.ie

According to Colin Martin, the title Empathy Lab comes from an area at Facebook’s EU headquarters in Dublin, where employees can express empathy with various causes through the use of technology. Sounds like a dystopian fantasy? Step on in. Martin’s paintings explore the pleasures and pains – though, to be honest, they are mostly pains – of the digital age. Survey a vast mail-order “fulfilment centre”, which must be anything but fulfilling for the lonely drone shown working there, as well as sci-fi scenes from the past in an exhibition shown earlier this year at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris.

An Túr Gloine: Artists and the Collective

National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, March 30th, 2024-January 12th, 2025, nationalgallery.ie

Irish stained glass has been really shining lately, with David Caron’s excellent monograph on Michael Healy, published in 2023. Now feast your eyes on the first exhibition to be dedicated to the pioneering stained-glass studio An Túr Gloine/The Tower of Glass at the National Gallery of Ireland. Alongside Healy, An Túr Gloine, whose members included Wilhelmina Geddes, Catherine O’Brien, Alfred E Child, Hubert McGoldrick and Evie Hone, was founded in 1903 by Sarah Purser. Purser herself is the subject of an exhibition at the Hugh Lane, which is apt, as she played a key role in the founding of the gallery and securing Charlemont House as its permanent home. (Sarah Purser: Artist/Activist runs June 12th-October 20th.) A visit to the Hugh Lane is always a welcome chance to see Harry Clarke’s The Eve of St Agnes; now the National Gallery has acquired Clarke’s window Titania Enchanting Bottom, the only one of his works to have been inspired by Shakespeare. Undergoing conservation, it will go on show early in 2024. Farther south, stop into Crawford Art Gallery, in Cork, before February 18th to see Harry Clarke: Bad Romance, which showcases his watercolours and ink drawings alongside some early stained-glass works.

Austin McQuinn: Mountains Fall on Us

Limerick City Gallery of Art, April 18th-June 9th, gallery.limerick.ie

In March this year Austin McQuinn showed a five-metre tower of discarded Aran sweaters at South Tipperary Arts Centre, in reference to the county’s tower houses, so it will be interesting to see what he creates for Limerick. McQuinn concluded a residency at the arts centre’s chapel, in the former Kickham barracks in Tipperary, earlier this year, presenting a performance, Imperial Lunatic. He said at the time: “I identify with the necessity of the lunatic to push against bioterritorial politics in order to emotionally survive the pull of the planets.” Expect meticulously inked paintings and sculptures that hover on the edge of the psychedelic, and artwork that invites you to think laterally, drawing on deep traditions, the artifices and edifices of power, the role of the outsider and that ever-troubled challenge we all face to find out how to be in the world.

Eimear Walshe

Venice Art Biennale, Italy, April 20th-November 24th, irelandatvenice2024.ie

It’s Venice biennale time again, and Ireland is sending Eimear Walshe with an installation curated by Project Arts Centre’s Sara Greavu. A hugely intriguing artist, Walshe explores questions of private property, personal autonomy, sexual conservatism and the built environment. Sounds worthy? Not a bit of it: their National Sculpture Factory-commissioned workbook, The Land for the People, subtitled The Sexual Case for Land Reform in Ireland, presented a wry but acutely incisive series of questions based on a 2020 project for EVA. There they posed the question “Where the f**k am I supposed to have sex?” in a way that made you feel both complicit and downright furious at the housing crisis in Ireland. For Venice, the Longford-born artist has been working on a multichannel video including an opera entitled Romantic Ireland, composed by Amanda Feery, with a libretto by Walshe themselves.

Yuri Pattison: Dream Sequence

Temple Bar Gallery and Studios/offsite at Dublin Port, July-October, templebargallery.com

A fascinating artist, Yuri Pattison won the Frieze Artist Award for his work exploring surveillance technologies back in 2016. An engrossing 2020 exhibition at the Douglas Hyde followed. Since then the Dubliner’s work has become, if anything, even more interesting, so his dream-sequence installation at Dublin Port’s Pump House No 2 should be a must. A generative video of an artificial river, Dream Sequence will respond to local atmospheric conditions and such delightful things as water quality and air pollution. Watch out for Beep Beep, at the port’s graving docks, by Liliane Puthod during the same period.

BogSkin

Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, November 15th, 2024-January 26th, 2025, rhagallery.ie

The RHA has been looking at the land in recent years. From A Growing Enquiry, the 2022 exhibition that focused on farming, we now go to the bogs. Inspired by Seamus Heaney’s haunting poem Bogland, and by the boglands themselves, the exhibition will include works by the painters Camille Souter, Barrie Clarke, Sean McSweeney and Veronica Bolay, with more recent explorations from Hughie O’Donoghue, Nigel Rolfe, Patrick Hough, Robert Ballagh, Laura Fitzgerald and Amelia Stein. The architect Tom de Paor will show documentation of N3, the building he made from a stack of peat briquettes for the 2001 Venice Biennale. Exhibition visitors will be able to see its linkage to Patrick Ireland/Brian O’Doherty’s Rick, first made in 1975 at the David Hendriks Gallery, re-created at Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh in 2019, and now re-created again at the RHA – proving, perhaps, that there is nothing new under the sun, or indeed in the bog.

Cooking Sections: Becoming Climavore

Model, Sligo, November 2024-January 2025, themodel.ie

Everyone needs to eat, a truth that the Turner Prize-nominated art and architecture collective Cooking Sections explore and exploit as they look at the world’s food systems in the light of sustainability and climate change. This will be the first Irish exhibition of the group that was established in London in 2013 by Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe. Including installations, films and live performances that explore the damaging effects of intensive farming methods, the exhibition will also feature work made for the Model. Tidal Commons will see the artists working with local participants to look at the often vexed question of seaweed harvesting, mapping the rejection of planning applications for locals to harvest seaweed, and the tensions caused by licenses being sold elsewhere. Enough to whet the appetite?



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