Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane is a staple of the Ireland's gallery scene. Funded by the Dublin City Council, the Hugh Lane is a public gallery located on Parnell Square North. The gallery itself hosts a variety of works from Irish painters and Impressionists to contemporary works of art.
The main entrance leads the viewer into a neo-classical town house which has been home to the gallery since 1933. In the first few rooms of the old wing, the gallery boasts a collection of both acclaimed international and Irish artists. Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Monet decorate the rooms of the Hugh Lane. A striking introduction to the gallery’s collection, the opening room aligns the gallery with its contemporaries around Europe. The following room hosts a number of Irish artists including Sean Keating, Sir John Lavery, and Jack B. Yeats. For those unfamiliar with Irish artists of the 19th and 29th Century, the Hugh Lane provides a impressive overview of the most acclaimed painters of this time. However, despite the interesting collection of modern and older works, The Hugh Lane also hosts a number of contemporary artists.
Northern Irish artist William McKeown’s dominates a small room just off the beautiful foyer with sparse artworks which subtly vary in tone. Noted for his room installations, McKeown’s Connemara series (2010) dominates over half of the room stretching from one curved wall to the next. The stillness of gallery compliments the varying gradients of refined colour used in McKeown’s paintings creating a peaceful chamber for the late artist’s work.
Moving further into the gallery artist’s such as Paul Seawright, Dorothy Cross, Richard Tuttle and Brian Duggan decorate the wall and floor spaces. Dorothy Cross’s Shark Lady in a Balldress (1988) explores the artist’s interest in the natural world and wilderness through a highly symbolic sculptural work. A traditionally threatening beast is dressed in a frilly ball gown, which alters the viewer’s previous perceptions and makes us question the meaning of the work.
Paul Seawright’s photographic works depict scenes from one of the most densely populated cities in the world; Lagos, Nigeria. Seawright’s work avoids the comfortable and familiar, instead opting to visually depict the viewer’s anxieties about the scenes he captures. Invisible Cities: Mist and Untitled (Woman) (2005) show scenes of urban life unfamiliar to a Western audience influenced by the media’s representation of the African continent.
A small collection of Richard Tuttle’s work can also be found at the Hugh Lane. As one of America’s most significant working artists Tuttle has exhibited all over the globe. With works varying from small intimate pieces to larger installations such as I Don’t Know . The Weave of Textile Language in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
Wall of Death Hell Rider (2009) by Irish artist Brian Duggan is based on the English wall of death rider Allan Ford. Depicted here on an Indian scout motorbike the rider is a metaphor for Duggan’s practice. When first exhibited in 2009 at the Hugh Lane as part of Step inside now step inside’ the work was believed to be both a continuation and departure of Duggan’s work.
The Hugh Lane is also home to the reconstructed Francis Bacon Studio. Moving to Dublin in 1998 from 7 Reece Mews in London, the studio consists of over 7,000 items which were removed and catalogued from the original room. Placing the items exactly as they were in 7 Reece Mews, a team of curators, archaeologists and conservators successfully reassembled the studio in the Hugh Lane. In 2001 the Francis Bacon Studio complex opened to visitors. The complex includes a micro gallery, unfinished works, and an installation of Bacon’s interview with broadcaster Melvyn Bragg.
In the modern wing of the Hugh Lane more contemporary works are on display. Liam Gillick's Perceived Lightness (2016) could initially be understood as a seating area for rest and reflection. Originally part of a series of similar lacquered wood furniture on display in the Hugh Lane, Gillick's practice integrates design into the surroundings of each artwork.
Elizabeth Magill's painted landscapes can also be found in the 2006 extension. Lodge (2) (2006) and Grayscale (2) (2005) celebrate Magill's depiction of landscape which she recalls from her youth in Antrim. Magill's signature style of familiar locations or images being transformed into slightly ominous and unsettling scenes is illustrated beautifully in these two works.
The final work on my visit to The Hugh Lane was Willie Doherty's Ancient Ground (2011). Doherty is celebrated for works which explore the difficulties and distortions which occur when representing reality. Filmed in County Donegal's peat bogs, Ancient Ground shows an absent landscape rather than a flourishing site of history. Doherty's practice and experience is shaped by his upbringing in Derry during the latter half of the 20th century, which saw a society harshly affected by political and religious issues.
All Images Taken by Author
Words by Elly Collins