Limerick, Ireland

Isabel Nolan

Ireland, b. 1974

In a dilapidated, blackened room, a painted steel screen hangs. Comprised of arches, the simple geometry of the ascending and retreating forms simultaneously obstructs the space and makes a threshold of sorts. The allusion to perspectival depth draws the eye up and through the room. The form and colours are loosely based on the interior of a local church and steal something of the ways architects use light and height to lead one to-wards the heart of a building, or even an idea. Beyond it hang chandelier-like sculptures that cast no light. There are no bulbs, or crystals strung from branching, decorative metalwork, just simple steel forms, draped with hand-dyed cotton. Their structures replicate classic chandeliers but their dysfunctional, provisional nature is utterly antipathetic to grandeur. This approximation of beauty is not opulent but unceremonious, vulnerable and colourful. The brightest colours might refer to the sun, or gaudy, artificial illuminations, but blacks, navies, and earth colours give a different heft to these incompetent faux-chandeliers. The frayed, lightweight fabric falls elegantly in straight and curved lines, absorbing and blocking light, but refuses resolutely to offer any to the space.

Isabel Nolan has an expansive practice that incorporates sculptures, paintings, textile works, photographs, writing, and works on paper. Her subject matter is similarly comprehensive, taking in cosmological phenomena, religious reliquaries, Greco-Roman sculptures, and literary/historical figures, examining the behaviour of humans and animals alike. Recent solo exhibitions include: Another View from Nowhen, London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, Calling on Gravity, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2017); and The weakened eye of dayayay (touring exhibition), Mercer Union, Toronto, CAG, Vancouver (2016) and IMMA, Dublin (2014). In 2005 Nolan represented Ireland at the 51st Venice Biennale as part of a group exhibition, Ireland at Venice 2005.

(Text: 38th EVA International catalogue)


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