Marlborough London presents Deep Water and the Architecture of Memory, an exhibition of large-scale works by Hughie O’Donoghue RA (born 1953).
At the core of this new body of work is the artist’s deep-rooted interest in interrogating the way memory is forged through generations. Inspired by his own memories as a child, the substantial works on tarpaulin exhibited in the show capture the gradually decaying MV Plassy wrecked in a storm off the coast of Inisheer in 1960. The shipwreck, a recuring motif in O’Donoghue’s practice for over twenty years, has an imposing sculptural and theatrical feel to it. Glowing with phosphorescent shades of rusty reds and yellows, the ship slowly witnesses its own demise whilst the sea remains a continuously moving yet immutable force.
Materiality is a focal aspect of this striking body of work. Primarily using repurposed materials such as sackcloth and sandbags, O’Donoghue creates tension between the realism of his imagery and the physicality of his works. This contrast is achieved through the artist’s unique process, a complex superposition of photographic images with layers of resin, acrylic and oil paint whilst embracing the irregularities of the materials as part of his aesthetic. O’Donoghue’s interest in the tradition of oil paint was sparked by the lavish colours of Old Master painters such as Titian, whose work he encountered while an artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in 1984.
O’Donoghue’s use of oil paint enables him to achieve vibrant tonal compositions with intense golden hues.
Deep Water and the Architecture of Memory celebrates the artist’s singular ability to excavate history in an almost archaeological manner to investigate the compelling themes of memory and identity. Charged with metaphorical though never fully formulated subject matters, the works on display invite the viewer to immerse themselves in the artist’s intricate universe and ultimately challenge them to confront their own relationship with identity.
Born in Manchester in 1953, Hughie O’Donoghue lives and works in London and County Mayo, Ireland. He gained an MA in Fine Art Goldsmiths College, was an artist-in residence at the National Gallery, London in 1984 and St John’s College, Oxford in 2000. O’Donoghue was elected member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2009. His work has been widely exhibited in Britain as well as in Europe. An exhibition of his work will open at the National Gallery of Ireland in March 2022.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an introduction by Tom Marks and an essay by Hughie O’Donoghue.
Photo: Hughie O'Donoghue, Adrift I, 2021, mixed media on prepared tarpaulin, 49 x 91 1/4 in., 125 x 232 cm