Mairead O’Heocha / Helene Appel

Light Spells Enter / On the Cutting Board

Mairead O’hEocha, Light Spells Enter, 2023, installation view, P420, Bologna

Mairead O’Heocha

Mairead O’hEocha presents an unprecedented series of nocturnal still lifes created during the lockdown, when the artist was shut away in a Georgian house in Dublin: a reflection on the contemporary gaze now accustomed to a light source coming from behind the screen.
As O’hEocha herself states: “This new series of paintings feature transparent objects on tables and like a glass calendar are inspired by events in my life in the years 2020–22.  A time when global mobility was suddenly paused and my dining table and the optics of small objects replaced all of my horizons. The consolations of digital technology brought comfort but also dissolved the distinctions between appearance and reality. The somewhat larger-than-life scale of the objects and their luminous back-lit scenes frame domestic confinement through a digital screen.”

Through her careful manipulation of the oil, O’hEocha’s compositions each contain an element of ambiguity: the subject shrouded in darkness takes on a new, unexpected and magical appearance.

M. O’hEocha, September Salt Crab with Fruit Bowl, 2022,
oil on board, cm 80 x 68

M. O’hEocha, Christmas Goldfish, 2022, oil on board, cm 80 x 68

Mairead O’hEocha, Light Spells Enter, 2023, installation view, P420, Bologna

Helene Appel

The works of Helene Appel feature seemingly simple objects/subjects that are so commonplace by virtue of their individual qualities and formal characteristics that they merge into the background of our everyday experience: an envelope, a vegetable, a piece of cloth, a towel, a pile of rubbish, a mound of earth, the pavement we walk on, the light of a parked car. These objects, which may appear trivial to us, taken for granted in our everyday life, with their real shapes and sizes, are imposed on our vision and thus regain a value we had not previously considered.

The title On the Cutting Board makes direct reference to a specific painting exhibited here that depicts a chopped fennel bulb on a rough canvas. In this case, the full-scale representation of the chopped fennel determines the size of the painting, which in turn becomes the size of the cutting board. A section of pavement spans almost the entire height of the gallery space, a painting of an envelope, by contrast small and pale, comes across as unusual in its lightness and intimacy. The smallest object depicted in the exhibition is a grain of sand, shown in countless multitudes: tiny dots and details fill a large canvas.

H. Appel, Sandbox, 2023,
acrylic on linen, cm 230 x 190

H. Appel, Branch, 2022,
watercolor and oil on linen, cm 184 x 125

Helene Appel, On the Cutting Board, 2023, installation view, P420, Bologna

Mairead O’Heocha, Light Spells Enter
Helene Appel, On the Cutting Board
P420, Bologna
February 25 – April 29, 2023

All images courtesy the artist and P420, Bologna
Photo: Carlo Favero