Doreen Kennedy

Doreen Kennedy: Revisit, ADF Gallery, Belfast, June-July 2013

Sonia Falcone, Venice Biennale, 2013

Sonia Falcone, Venice Biennale, 2013

Sonia Falcone  presents a variation of a grid, I think of as a soft grid.  A grid became an ubiquitous device of the 20th C visual art,  it usually tessellated rectangular elements, like in the “Tate’s bricks” below:

Carl Andre, ‘Equivalent VIII’ 1966

Carl Andre: Equivalent VIII, 1966

Whether a pattern tessellates or not depends on the outline of the repeated element.   If it does not, the outcome is a softer grid with gaps for spontaneous events. Rectangles easily tesselate,  for example in Carl Andre’s floor sculptures.

In her contribution to the 55th Venice Biennale  Sonia Falcone  created a soft grid with  circular  vessels holding powder material  in different colours.   I hesitate to read it as gender-based preference in the light of hegemony of powder in  A. Kapoor’s illusions of space and  organic shapes of spices in  textile by Ernesto Netto. Especially, as another female artist explores soft grids using a rectangle as a building element.

Doreen Kennedy places multiples of an unit (rectangular photographic print)  leaving gaps between each, a motif she observed in nature  and photographed   for her earlier  exhibition.

The Flower Bed, photo-based art installation

Doreen Kennedy: The Flower Bed, 2009, 6×4 inch photographic prints, wooden sticks, Sculpture in Context, 2009, National Botanic Garden, Dublin

She commented:

Flower Bed’ is a photography-based art installation. It is made up of approximately 600 photographic prints of flowers, mounted back to back. Each set of prints are placed overlapping to make up a rectangular shape. The recreation of an artificial photography-based in a public space aims to surprise the viewer. It looks at the everyday action viewing of flowers / plant life in a public park over repeated visits … Flower Bed was previously installed as part of Sculpture in Context at National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin September 2009 and at: Celestial Salt, The Good Hatchery, Daingean, Co. Offaly. November/December 2009. A selection of images from Flower Bed were exhibited at the 1st Alliance Francaise Photography Award Exhibition April/May 2011.’

She also installed it at the Art in Odd Places Festival in New York, October,2011.

The Flower Bed, NY, 2011

The pattern of flowers creating a greater form, like a crown of the tree, has been a subject of Kennedy’s series of photographic prints Mono No Aware, 2010.

Mono no aware exhibition image

Doreen Kennedy: Mono No Aware, 2010, 42x42cm C-type photographic print

At the same time, the artist became motivated by her love of “libraries”.

Doreen Kennedy: Book Grids 1-6, 2011,Giclee prints, 39.5cm x 84 cm each

The Portrait of a Library has been a part of her Belfast exhibition as a “document of the content of a library”.  The project started in August 2010 at the public library in Dalkey, Co. Dublin. She reflected afterwards:

Across several visits I made over a thousand photographs’ (

Although the books are recognizable parts, the rhythm of the squares of a grid takes over, and the clusters of similar hues impose an order, unrelated to her attention to  ‘worn  book covers, broken spines, creased pages and intriguing date stamps'(ibidem).  I hasten to add that the discrepancy between her intention and final outcome does not weaken the visual power of her  innovative application of an old tool. On the contrary, the untamed variations on a book form  emanate the aesthetic power of order (the squares) and viewpoints of a book, only  sparingly repeated. The  coloured clusters  take over in a flow reminiscent of dreams or incomplete memory.

Kennedy’s talent to revitalise an older paradigm  brings charming results, that do not flirt with a shallow prettiness.  I have in mind two of the exhibits in Belfast based on The Sea Bed, Killiney Beach, 2012

Installed indoors they have not lost their intimate link to Richard Long’s Land Art

Richard Long: Six stone circles, 1981, London (Private Collection)

However, Kennedy instilled man-made perishable objects with the transformatory powers that  Long charged the stones with. The difference is significant, as if she  revisited and challenged the equation between art and immortality in a dignified acceptance of the absence of a convincing answer to our significance in  the universe.

About Slavka Sverakova

writer on art
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1 Response to Doreen Kennedy

  1. ann kennedy says:

    you are SO talented Doreen, i didnt get to go, things overwhelming over here, but to see your work is a joy, i wish you all the best, its on for a while lets hope i get there. take care and call down soon, looking good!!


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