Wandering Things. The exhibition’s title throws up one little question when you’ve learned how the Kildare born artist Susan Connolly has previously created many of her works – often large pieces installed into the walls of the galleries she exhibits in – just how will the paintings in this show transfer to a foreign gallery? Connolly clarifies; “The original idea was to exhibit the collection of ‘Wandering Things’ paint skins alongside a new ‘site-specific’ work but unfortunately, due to the listed nature of Kunsthaus Dahlem, this was not feasible. I have exhibited this work as a growing collection before, but this is the first time that I have all 4 previous installations together”.
When Connolly mentions site specific, she is referring to work she has previously created and exhibited in the Mac, Belfast or the Lab, Dublin amongst others. Pieces she first created, before moving them “on site” to the gallery, and fusing them into the showcasing walls. “My painting practice has increasingly moved towards a site specificity and a temporality. This aspect of the work has grown in its importance with the construction of the work revealing and presenting new ways of looking at our understanding and of one’s expectations of what a painting is, its presentation and how it holds walls within the exhibition/gallery environment. I am interested in every aspect of how the viewer ‘looks’ at painting and in my practice, I aim to offer new ways to consider paintings and how we ‘look’ within an expanded painting era”. For Dahlem, Connolly has also developed and introduced new armature structures, painted in cmyk colours: “I am really excited to see how they ‘hold’ the wall and give a floating like quality to how the 3 smaller (150x120cm) paint skins are viewed.”
“The paintings I make come from an inquisitive and conceptual way of thinking about making images using the medium paint as the primary source.”Susan Connolly
Connolly was invited to exhibit at the Kunsthaus Dahlem by curator Mirjami Schuppert, who was, until recently, based in Belfast where Connolly was finishing up her PhD from Ulster University. Schuppert, in attendance at a talk held by Connolly at the University, was left impressed and intrigued at how the work would impact the pieces outside of Ireland and the UK. “Mirjami thought it an interesting proposition for my practice too” adds Connolly.
Had she been looking herself to take the pieces abroad? “Not really, but I am very excited to have this opportunity to bring my work to new audiences beyond Ireland. What really attracted me to this particular opportunity was the venue’s history as a ‘site’ of artistic production, and the work of Italian artist Emilio Vedora really stood out to me with his development of the walkthrough painting installations during the 1960s. His work really spoke to my own studio explorations as my paintings often explore ideas to do with the expanded nature of contemporary painting practices and the traces of the artists activity upon the visual outcomes.”
The two make for great company. Vedora was the first international artist to exhibit at Kunsthaus Dahlem and also explored concepts of how one views a piece. My little question has been, well and truly, put to bed; “Like all artwork there is always an interesting transition between sites of development, sites of production and sites of viewing,” Connolly concludes, “and how the works hold themselves in Kunsthaus Dahlem will add a further dimension to their ‘wandering thingness’, which will make the work unique to this particular exhibition.”
Wandering Things opens this Thursday, January 23rd 2020, and runs through to March 30th at Kunsthaus Dahlem. The opening is open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. For anyone curious to find out more about the artist, process or works, Connolly will also hold a talk on the evening of March 11th. For more information please check in at Kunsthaus Dahlem or Susan Connolly‘s websites.