Irish artist Eleanor McCaughey has been catching our eye with her recent portrait-format based canvases that are depicting abstract or borderline impossible bust and head sculptures. Composed sometimes as still lifes, sometimes as odd interior images, these outstanding pictures are artist’s reflections on impenetrable forces shaping our society, both the ideological and the technological ones.
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Reducing her subjects to a silhouette sculped in shiny, often reflective material, the Dublin-based artist is portraying merely a rough notion of a person. Allowing only certain features to stay recognizable, and providing the illusion that the viewer can see his reflection in the image, McCaughey is criticizing the use of social media to create a false identity. The series began with found photography being used s a source material, and lead towards experimenting with sculpture and photography. Using crude and playful materials such as children’s polymer clay, tape, glitter, acrylic, toilet rolls and tinfoil, these unrefined sculptures are manifestations of real and imagined characters. While the sculptures are more experimental in their construction, she chooses traditional oil painting techniques for the next step of her process.
“The sculptures are personified through paint. I spend time examining the materiality and physicality of the mixed media sculpture, documenting every drip, shadow, and texture. I enjoy the contrast between the spontaneity and playfulness of making the sculptures to the labor-intensive rendering of the final paintings.” McCaughey told Juxtapoz about this part of her work.
The idea behind these portraiture works is further elaborated with her display installations, which are somewhat of a nod to her formative years. Using the lively aesthetics of nostalgic 1990’s pop optimism, such as classic MTV studio sets combined with traditional religious shrines and alters, she creates a narrative that is taking reference from Asmat ancestor skulls or Christian iconography, previously mentioned classic MTV studio designs and traditional shrines, all the way to the modern day selfie phenomenon. McCaughey recently showed these works with The Ground Floor Gallery in The Complex Dublin, The Dock in Co Leitrim, and at Pallas Projects, Dublin, and is currently working on a project that will be revealed in November in Galway, Ireland. —Sasha Bogojev