Limerick, Ireland
James Gormley, Grey Turnk, 2007, oil on canvas, 91.5 x 50.5 cm

James Gormley

b. 1981, Ireland

Once the world of things was posited, man himself became one of the things of this world, at least for the time in which he laboured. It is this degradation that man has always tried to escape. In his strange myths, in his cruel rites, man is in search of a lost intimacy from the first.

— Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, vol. I

My most recent paintings are an attempt to articulate the paralysing sense of corporeal objecthood. Thematic focal points fall at once upon the ‘objectified’ body, the archaic mechanisation of social or sexual communion (the religious inferences of this word are also relevant – the host, the crucifix, the altar all fit into the visual language with which I try to communicate) and, paradoxically, the richness and ambiguity of physical gesture which can underscore even the most ritualised situation.

Key motifs reoccur throughout the work: uniform – military, academic, athletic or otherwise – is a frequent signifier of a move to unify thought and intent, to form one body from a mass of bodies. Communal gatherings, forums and the power-manifesting public spectacle of political ceremony also appear, but this imagery is offset by representations of solitary figures. In pieces like these, the idea of the body imbued with the character of a thing or a repertory of things, denied the autonomy of a true body, is most pronounced and most intimate.

(Text: too early for vacation catalogue, 2008)

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