Frances Elizabeth van Velzen

Printmaking Student, Limerick School of Art & Design.
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Frances van Velzen


1. Patrick Scott “Image Space Light” exhibition at IMMA, Dublin.

This exhibition brings together the most comprehensive representation of the artist’s 75 year long career. Scott had his first exhibition in 1941 with the White Stag Group. The exhibition brings together more than 100 pieces that illustrate the breadth and longevity of his career as an architect, designer and artist. The exhibition at IMMA concentrates on Scott’s early works from the 1940s to the early 70s while VISUAL(Carlow) displays works from the 1960s to the present”.

I visited this exhibition yesterday. For me personally, Scott’s Bog paintings stood the test of time the best - the two Bog paintings on show (tempera on untreated canvas) are suffused with a particular gentleness and seem alive with poetic suggestion. There are hints of colour denoting tiny bog flora which are sensitively handled. Both paintings evoke memory and landscape, both are charged with timelessness.

There is a simplicity and innocence of style to many of his works which is admirable and curious at once. I felt that whereas Scott’s work (in particular his graphic works on the theme of nuclear fission and the gold disc series) must once have seemed innovative, perhaps even daring, many of his paintings seem quite tame now, even a little jaded. 

Frances Elizabeth van Velzen

2. “Line Writing” by Vong Phaophanit, 1994, at East Ground Lambert Galleries, IMMA, Dublin.

This is a site-specific installation by Laos-born artist Vong Phaophanit. It has been re-installed at IMMA in the room it was originally conceived  for as part of a series of exhibitions which took place in 1994, entitled From Beyond The Pale. This striking neon text work is installed under the removed floorboards of one of the rooms in the East Room Galleries. Enmeshed in the fabric of the building, the work involves an excavation of sorts, and suggests a secret or hidden history. The work rips through the floorboards like a wound, and includes six Lao words - the names of Equatorial diseases. These fragments of text are not translated into English. The work operates both seductively and repulsively on the senses, the red light luring the viewer into the space, only to reveal a dark and dirty cavernous space beneath”.

While at IMMA, I also viewed this installation. I was excited by this work. The dug up floorboards gave a sense of archaeology, of hidden treasure, of history, while emotionally alluding also to fear, to guilt, and to suppression. The neon red strip lighting hints at associative links to the colour red as a sign of danger, a sign of brothels and prostitution, of anger and of passion, perhaps even of the pit of hell.

The ripped up floor - when viewed from one end of the room towards the other, looking lengthwise along the tear - has connotations of being an airport runway strip lit for a plane, waiting for it to land. The embedded words naming Equatorial diseases sit uneasily within the overall frame of the wooden lats intersected with the neon tube lighting. The words sit like threats on a sinister abacus of allusion. 

For me Phaophanit’s work has held it’s power despite the passing of 20 years and is fresh and thought provoking. 

Frances Elizabeth van Velzen

3. Dorothy Cross exhibition “Connemara” at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Ely Place, Dublin 2.

"Following its debut at Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK, the RHA is delighted to present Connemara, an exhibition of new and existing work by Dorothy Cross…Connemara is home to Dorothy Cross and the source of inspiration for this new exhibition of her work. Cross’s sculpture, film and photography examine the relationship between living beings and the natural world around them, seeing both as sites of constant change, leaving residues of passing time, and strange and unexpected encounters".

The immediate thing that strikes you on entering the room where this exhibition is staged, is the huge space giving generous and ample room for each piece to breathe. Also noticeable is the beautifully designed lighting which pours down softly, lovingly on each work, highlighting and showcasing each piece individually, an inverted glowing cone of appreciation.

Cross uses her experience of a life lived in Connemara, often incorporating locally found objects into her work. She juxtaposes living things with the natural world, connecting them in a surprising and delightfully jumbled manner, for example, giving her shark a fin denoting Mount Everest, or her ‘father’ within the “Family” of crabs, a penis which is displayed exo-skeletally.

An upended currach entitled “Tabernacle” has become a strange upside down maritime-themed miniature cinema. Fishing floats and other found items adorn the “ceiling” (floor) and there are three simple seats resembling traditional sawbenches. Roller blinds give a sense of enclosure. To the front and forward of “Tabernacle”, a video work is projected onto the wall. It is a film shot from the interior of a cave near where Cross lives, which is only accessible three days a year. Shot from within the cave looking out towards the sea and the light beyond the cave, this becomes our point of view, our perspective. The low waves roll towards us across the cave’s floor. We are absolutely lost and somehow found, within the cave, sharing the secret of the three days when the cave allows us in. It is a strangely moving experience and I found myself drawn back to this video work again and again, looking wistfully over my shoulders as I left the exhibition space later, not wanting to depart from the sense of beautiful isolation one can only feel when lost in such surrounds.

Cross has included a completely beautiful photograph of Inis Turk, it’s spine coated in snow. A huge expanse of the space above Inis Turk is given over to a gloomy and commanding Connemara sky. It is a brave and wise statement by the artist, for what is Connemara if not it’s skies? This single moment captured, frozen by the lens of the camera, is exquisitely judged.

I find the work of Dorothy Cross packed full of imagination and playfulness. Her work shows a mind that is strong, intuitive, pushing her creativity to wonderful and powerful effect. 

Frances Elizabeth van Velzen


Jasper Johns: Summer (1985) encaustic on canvas, 6’ 3” x 50”


At the time it appeared, the series of works known as The Seasons was Johns’s most autobiographical to date. Its imagery combines fragmented references to the artist’s past work and his life, including a tracing of his shadow. Johns has said, “In my early work I tried to hide my personality, my psychological state, my emotions, but eventually it seemed like a losing battle. Finally one must simply drop the reserve.”


Jasper Johns: The Seasons (Winter) 1987, Etching and acquatint on paper


Cui Fei - Manuscript of Nature V (2002)

NYTimes: At Brooklyn Museum’s Artists Ball, Some Words From Ai Weiwei and Unusual Doughnuts

David Hockney’s Yorkshire spring drawings

Although the video quality is middling at best, the analysis of Anselm Kiefer’s work by Robert Hughes is informative and authoritative.


[landscape] #20


Bernard Emile     Giovinetta, 1937