The Breaking Yard

KATY MORAN_Katy Moran_

Douglas Hyde Gallery_Dublin_

8 February _ 28 March_2013_

What has been written on Moran’s paintings in the past seems dependent on cultural context. American reviewers write that her paintings are evocative of Willem de Kooning’s ‘action paintings.’ The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl’s description of de Kooning’s ’60s period as ‘swimmingly sensuous, playing touch-and-go with smiling female flesh and moist landscapes’ does spread far in describing some of the Moran’s painterly attributes. While on this side of the Atlantic there is the more sophisticated promise of eighteenth century French Rococo painting, with Fragonard and Boucher repeatedly mentioned. The reason for such collective waxing lyrical with regard to Moran’s abstraction is either: European art critics are lazily copying and pasting from their peers’ appraisals; aphasia kicks in when confronted with her paintings; or Moran has somehow manufactured the good taste and élan of French aristocratic art.

However, what brings all critics together in their reception of Moran’s work is the belletristic writing that her paintings produce from London to New York. Bottom line, it all comes down to taste in the end, and with Moran’s paintings taste seems to be, at face- value, their raison d'être. One initial criticism I have of her early work is sometimes they have been a little bit too tasteful: it is always good to have an one ugly belligerent work in an exhibition that forces you to second-guess your first impression of an artist. This is certainly the case with the artists new paintings at DHG, but more on that later.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what Moran’s source imagery for such lyrically painted gestures is? The artist has admitted in the past that Google Image, interior design magazines and photos taken on her mobile phone work as arbitrary starting points for her paintings. There are passages, however, that suggest groups of figures; folds of drapery; a Romantic landscape. In the past, and still performed in some of the early work at DHG, Moran has a way with fleshy impasto that is good enough to eat.

Katy Moran received spectacular attention immediately following her MA show at the Royal College of Art in 2005. Today, at the tender ‘art age’ of 37 she is represented by the cream of British and American galleries, Modern Art, London and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, and has had group show dalliances with New York's 303 Gallery and Gagosian Gallery respectively. So why so much art market fuss so fresh from the collegial womb? Well, seven years on from her big bang emergence on the artworld, Irish art audiences get a chance to experience her most recent work presented at the Douglas Hyde Gallery (DHG), Dublin. But, allow me to take an impromptu look back at Moran’s more painterly abstraction leading up to her recent work which invites collage into the painted frame.

fig. 1: KATY MORAN, The main event (2012), acrylic and collage on board, 51.2 x 41.4 cm, courtesy of Stuart Shave/Modern Art and Andrea Rosen Gallery.



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