Open Frequency 2012: Mark McGreevy, selected by Feargal O'Malley

Open Frequency 2012: Mark McGreevy, selected by Feargal O'Malley Mark McGreevy, A love for the end, 2008/09, oil on canvas, 70 cm x 90 cm

Feargal O'Malley, Northern Ireland Manager for Visual Artists Ireland, profiles the work of Mark McGreevy.

Mark McGreevy’s densely packed compositions appear continually to shift focus between overlapping visual planes, as if caught between two worlds, a pictorial equivalent of today’s ‘always on, always available’ world.

McGreevy’s paintings are built in such a way that there is no clear evidence of how they are constructed. Drawings are made from several initial sources which are then developed through repeated addition and erasure, and this continues until they have created a certain narrative that has previously been set out for them. This then is used as the primary material for his paintings.

McGreevy constructs the paintings within a similar framework until the initial image collapses, leaving a residue or armature of the image/idea. This making and semi-destruction helps to create a fractured, absurdist narrative that gives the impression of randomness, fragmentary consciousness and dissociative disruptions, as if to mimic the fragmentary process of building up a painting through its parts.

The paintings presented in Bundle View are rooted in fact as much as in fiction. In the painting 'Horrorscope' (2009-10) an approximation of a castle dwelling appears, taken from a real 17th century ruin that was crafted with centuries-old dry wall and relatively modern concrete onto the side of McGreevy’s local video store in the early 1980s. His work never looks easy, as if each brush stroke and compositional discussion has been fought over, in a constant intermittent push and pull. The narrative is indistinct, yet at the same time tip of your tongue familiar, escaping too ready an interpretation. This image compression has the ability to project itself from the frame, making it seem inexplicably heavier than the surrounding atmosphere, a foreboding of the present.

Mark McGreevy Victor Maitland’s House, 2008 - 2010

Mark McGreevy, Victor Maitland's House, 2008-10
Oil on canvas, 50 cm x 40 cm


Mark McGreevy Horrorscope, 2009 - 2010

Mark McGreevy, Horrorscope, 2009-10
Oil on canvas, 40 cm x 40cm

Perhaps the current economic climate is reflected in the the more domestic scale of his recent painting, particuarly the way that space is articulated within the frame. 'Aim, Toggle, Sleep' has the shallow dusty space of a terrace mantelpiece laden with collected bric-à-brac, traces of an individual’s taste or needs in physical form. In this work interior collide with exterior spaces, combining and enfolding a bricolage of interests. McGreevy renders down multiple influences and synthesises different types of information into something cohesive with its own interior logic: today pressing into yesterday and buzzing with association.

All these works contain threads of the experiential, references to low/high culture and ideas about the personal subjugating the collective and vice versa, creating a collapse of authority through absurdity, casting doubt on the painting's own internal value system and validating the importance of opportunities to rethink and change one’s mind.

The extent of recent change in Northern Ireland has produced art with an eye on the international. McGreevy’s paintings mark a progression beyond the parochial miasma of the past and, at their best, make you feel as if you are in attendance at and an active participant in the creation of meaning in real time.

Feargal O'Malley, September 2012

Artist's Biography

Mark McGreevy studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast (BA Hons Fine and Applied Art 1994-1999 and Masters in Fine Art 2001-2003).

Selected exhibitions include The Fold - A Painting Show in VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, 2011; Resolutions, Katzen Arts Centre, Washington DC in 2007; There Not There in the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 2008, and A Gap in the Bright, the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown in 2008.

He has received Bursary Awards from The Arts Council of Ireland in 2012 and 2009 was shortlisted for The AIB Award, 2004, and the BOC emerging artist award, UK, 2004. Residencies include Temple Bar Gallery+Studios, Dublin, 2007-2010, Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s New York research residency, 2008, and Artist Residency Programme in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in 2005.

View Mark McGreevy's profile >

About Feargal O'Malley

Feargal O’Malley is an artist and curator, specialising in contemporary art from Northern Ireland. He recently took up the post of Northern Ireland Manager for Visual Artists Ireland, an all Ireland body for professional visual artists who provide practical support through out their career. Prior to this he worked as Exhibitions Manager at the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (2008 -2011), where he delivered a programme that celebrated the wide diversity of contemporary practices both in Northern Ireland and abroad. He has also previously worked with the Millennium Court Art Centre as Arts Officer/Curator, Portadown (2003 -2008), and was a co-director of Platform Arts a non-profit studio and exhibition space, Belfast (2010 – 2012). 

Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of significant emergent artists.