Just off the Dublin quays, where the smell from the Liffey and the Guinness brewery invade the nose, mother’s tankstation hosts two of its gallery artists in a show that triggers the plebeian phrase “work, rest and play.” Entitled Nor for Naught, the “conversation” between Brendan Earley’s architectonic sculptures and Kevin Cosgrove’s paintings of vacated workshops is premised by a biblical quotation in the press release, that proclaims “toil” and “meaningful purpose” will produce “bread” for the hard working collective “we.”

Earley transforms hardware materials (plasterboard), packaging, and IKEA products into sombre modernist dioramas that are injected with the optimism of retroactive science fiction. Previous work by the artist includes the re-articulation of a batch of flat pack IKEA furniture (amounting to “three kitchens and a small sitting room”) into a ‘failed’ modernist reconfiguration at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, in 2008. The conceptual punch line was delivered when the work was deinstalled and advertised on a recycling website – subsequently towed away to have a new utilitarian purpose in a service in the country.

The most poignant aspect of Earleyʼs first solo show at motherʼs tankstation in 2010 was his audiobook-like retelling of J.G. Ballardʼs short story Report On An Unidentified Space Station, voiced wonderfully by the artist and theorist Brian OʼDoherty (author of Inside the White Cube: Ideologies of the Gallery Space, 1976). Displayed with the audio were black marker drawings of Michael Heizerʼs City (an ongoing monumental “earthwork” in the Nevada desert, coming up to forty years in the making), and a monitor with a ʻshooting-through-the -starsʼ animation; The Thing rather than Star Trek sprung to mind.

If Earley could be described as a ‘material reimaginist’, transforming the hardware materials that take the plaster and paint in our homes, or the stuff that cushions our technology and shelves our possessions, then Cosgrove is a realist, an observer of the vacated sites where real work takes place, but where the workers are resting or out to play. Cosgrove has had two previous solo shows at the gallery. Usually a painter of small canvases, the paintings for his second solo show at mother’s tankstation where big and bold, taking on a transformative power over the gallery space, where gallery elements such as a red iron girder, step ladder and garage door became more visible. Although self-consciousness was evident in these larger paintings; representational vanity seemed to work. During the run of that show, motherʼs tankstation seemed to resemble a repair shop, a tire shop, or the ubiquitous workshop that the painter obsesses over. Nor for Naught displays the same obsessions by Cosgrove, while the workshop context makes visible the tools and materials of the workman trade that Earley utilises in his current work on display in the gallery.

LEFT: Brendan Earley, Pieces of the City are Forming Like Islands, Aluminium, plasterboard and fibreglass ladder, 2010.

RIGHT: Kevin Cosgrove, Workshop (with cardboard) Oil on Linen, 2011.
Images courtesy of mother’s tankstation.




Space Invaders

Kevin Cosgrove and Brendan Earley

Nor for Nought

mother’s tankstation, Dublin

14 September - 29 October

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