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Eithne Jordan: Tableau

This exhibition by Eithne Jordan presents an installation of new paintings inviting us to look closely at the multi-layered histories woven through the spaces of institutions and public buildings. Many of these are museums or historic buildings that contain art as a backdrop to civic, educational or cultural activities. Sparsely populated by people, in Jordan’s paintings artworks such as portraits hanging on the wall or busts arranged on pedestals, often stand in for the human figure.

There is a sense throughout these works that activity is about to take place or is happening out of view of the scene depicted. The sense of stillness and quiet is enhanced by the artist’s ability to capture the subtle effects of light within a room. These range from daylight falling through a window to electric spotlights, chandeliers or the glow of a projector.

The exhibition includes both small gouache paintings on paper and larger oil paintings, providing an insight into Jordan’s working process. The architectural compositions that catch the artist’s eye are first captured through photography, then in the gouache studies and finally in oil paint. The image is refined, pared back and edited to create a series of images that evoke the atmosphere of the spaces depicted.

Throughout Tableau there is a dialogue between the past and the present, between the historic and the contemporary. The paintings trace the lives of buildings over time – the insertion of modern elements such as fire extinguishers and exit signs into historic settings, or the arrangement of furniture, flowers and other objects that indicate the daily routines carried out in these settings.

The exhibition title, Tableau, can refer to an arrangement such as a tableau vivant, a performance in which a silent and motionless group of people are arranged to represent a scene (often a work of art). In these performances the human figure stands in for an artwork, while in Jordan’s paintings artworks stand in for human figures. The setting for this exhibition is Charlemont House, once private but now a public gallery – a civic space for public participation. Its rooms have been painted to provide a dramatic backdrop to the paintings, creating an installation that delights the senses.

Eithne Jordan was born in Dublin and lives in Ireland and in Languedoc in the south of France. She studied at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and at Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. She has exhibited widely in Ireland and internationally; most recently she held a solo exhibition at The Butler Gallery Kilkenny featuring paintings created during the Tony O’Malley Residency in Callan. She is a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and Aosdána, which honours those who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.