Source: Limerick Leader, 16th September 2016
Educated at St Philomena’s primary school in Limerick I, also, attended the Crescent College Comprehensive, and Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD).
Subsequently, I graduated from the Royal College of Art, in London, L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, in Paris and the University of Limerick (UL). My grandfather, mother and sister, were all architects, my mother being the City Architect. My father was a Harbour Master who could, also, draw. It should come as no great surprise, therefore, that I was always making, designing, inventing, building and decorating things. Today, I work mostly with oil paints, Conté Crayons, and watercolours, with sometimes a bit of etching thrown in for good measure.
An artist is essentially a combination of visual explorer and narrator.
Indeed, the world is becoming more visually orientated, through the arts, and especially through film which is, itself, a type of constant language. Making Art is, however, an extremely solitary activity, akin to being a hermit. There are easier ways to earn a living but none as rewarding, so it is not for everyone. Art is not a part-time activity either. Indeed, it takes years to evolve a personal language or a voice. That said, I would encourage everyone to draw. It is, only through Art, that we can find our true selves, and not the ‘self’ that we wish others to see. This, however, can be an unforgiving reality.
The driving force behind my work is to make and to record my own personal journey via paintings and drawings.
My constant theme or purpose has been to create an environment to share with the viewer or audience. Perhaps I am a sort of visual travel writer? There isn’t a constant style as such, my paintings mutate according to the needs of a particular subject, such as through finding a new tool to do a job more efficiently. In fact, I try to use paint to convey my personal experiences of a place, in what is commonly described as; ‘the abstract’. Such experiences, like art itself, change each time we revisit the memory of a place or time. For instance, a painting of a landscape will never be a landscape, it is just a collection of marks and shapes which represent our conceptual idea of a landscape. I tend to listen to contemporary classical and choral music while working. Indeed, I find that it instantly transports me through a vast range of emotions and memories. So, it is natural, that I have become drawn more and more to Lyric Fm. Here, there is always a new piece of music which challenges my perception of what is possible in the world.
My current exhibition, at Friars’ Gate Theatre in Kilmallock, is curated by Dr Una McCarthy of Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA).
It endeavours to explore everyday experiences by developing my interest in an abstract based pictorial language, using marks, colours and shapes. Together, these provide a more realistic experience of seeing, coupled with memory, for the viewer. The exhibited works range in size from ten by eight centimeters to two by three meter canvases. I like the ‘Insta-walls’ as my sister calls them. That scale enjoys an extra dimension, namely, of being physically imposing while actually being easier to make. Essentially, I see them as visual narratives about place.
The inspiration for this event came about as a result of a visit I made to Huangshan, (The Yellow Mountain), in China.
This is a majestic dreamy landscape high above the cloud line where 200 Buddhist temples were once located. I was particularly intrigued by the way that thick mists frequently cloak the weird abstract chunks of pine covered granite found here. These intermittently revealed, then concealed, the extraordinary secretive landscape beneath. There were, also, many ancient rock inscriptions dotted along the walking trails. These were put here by monks and poets as meditational insights, both for themselves and for the many travelers to this unique place. Taking many drawings and photographs, at first, I could not figure out how to respond to Huangshan’s spirit. As any literal (realistic) visual response was inadequate, I eventually decided to follow the example of the ancient monks, and in my paintings, to literally ‘draw’ over the landscape. As I could not read the language of their texts, my own abstract marks tried to echo the mystery of this ancient language. Thus, my drawn shapes, washes, marks and forms, now emit spiritual memories, similar to the way that the fogs and texts of Huangshan suggest our past, present and future.
Next, I will complete more work for a new exhibition, in The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon, and begin further material for a show in Shanghai.
Along with six other graduates of LSAD I have been included in Lyric Fm’s Culture Night project, (see ‘Pictures @ an exhibition’). I am, also, completing work for an autumn group show in Dublin’s SO Fine Art Editions Gallery, in October. However, I love Limerick and hope to live here always. It is a hugely inspirational place with great friends and a great community spirit. I have always considered the City to be an important artistic hub, with an extraordinarily hard working artistic community. In fact, we had the very first ‘art school’ in all of Ireland. The Hunt Museum, LCGA and Limerick Printmakers are all now world class venues. I am especially looking forward to ‘Culture Night’ in order to view the extraordinary range of activities going on here. It would be great if we could have a whole week of such cultural events!
Maurice Quillinan’s next exhibition will take place at Friars’ Gate Art Centre in Kilmallock from September 9-30. For information phone: 063 98727 or visit the websites: www.friarsgate.ie or www.facebook.com/Maurice QuillinanArtist