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Aidan Dunne’s cultural highs and lows of 2014

Saturday 27th December, 2014

’EVA International, in Limerick, was on a par with other art biennials'

Below EVA 2014 Agitationism ranks highly in Aidan Dunne's estimation as he refects on the art and culture of 2014 in The Irish Times.  See the published article here.


What were your cultural highlights of 2014?

Eva International, in Limerick, curated by Bassam El Baroni, was easily on a par with other art biennials, and better than several, on a fraction of their budgets. On a smaller scale, physically and financially, Tulca, in Galway, also impressed. Maria Simonds-Gooding’s RHA retrospective was outstanding.

And the year’s biggest disappointments?

Apart from anything else, the inept manoeuvring over the appointment of John McNulty to the Imma board was a salutary reminder of profound political disregard for the whole artistic constituency. Underlined by the fact that the board of the National Museum of Ireland ended the year looking at the possibility of closing its doors.

What caught you by surprise?

Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner is not only an excellent film on any terms but also dances gracefully through the minefield of artist biopics. An antidote to The Girl With the Pearl Earring and many other misguided examples of the genre, it sets a new standard.

And what will you be glad to see or hear the last of?

Nonexistent or derisory fees for visual artists. Making contemporary art involves significant financial outlay, but many publicly funded organisations still leave the artist last in line. This is all the worse when institutions are not really acquiring works, either.

Who or what was 2014’s unsung hero?

If not quite unsung, certainly undersung: Mike Fitzpatrick, the director of Limerick School of Art and Design, took on the poisoned chalice of Limerick City of Culture and transformed its fortunes. He also, quietly, became commissioner for Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2015, with the artist Sean Lynch and the curator Woodrow Kernohan.

What’s your top tip for 2015?

The Frank Auerbach retrospective at Tate Britain in October. Born in Berlin in 1931, resident in England since 1939 (both his parents died in a concentration camp), Auerbach is an exemplary artist, not least for his unwavering concentration and his indifference to the whims of fashion.

2014 in three words?

Waiting to exhale.



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