Propeller, 2021

distemper and oil on collaged linen and muslin

78 x 56 inches

Supplicant, 2020

oil and distemper on collaged linen and muslin

78 x 56 inches

Interrogator, 2020

oil and distemper on collaged linen and muslin

78 x 56 inches

Stoning, 2020

oil and distemper on collaged linen and muslin

78 x 56 inches

Bound, 2020

oil and distemper on collaged linen and muslin

78 x 56 inches

Antipodes, Age of Exploration, 2017

distemper and oil on linen

96 x 72 inches

Tapestry Hall, 2020

oil and distemper on portrait linen

56 x 78 inches

Tapestry Room, 2020

oil and distemper on portrait linen

56 x 78 inches

Antipodes, Yellow Study, 2018

gouache on tyvec

26 x 22 inches

Antipodes, Yellow Study II, 2018

gouache on tyvec

12 x 16 inches

El Pardo, The Ball Game, 2019

gouache on Tyvek

16 x 15 inches

El Pardo, Winter, 2019

gouache on Tyvek

18 x 13 inches

Antipodes, Brittany, 2017

distemper and oil on linen

56 x 52 inches

Tapestry Room Study, 2020

gouache on Tyvek

18 x 24 inches

Tapestry Hall Study, 2020

gouache on Tyvek

18 x 24 inches

Finial Blue, 2020

low fire whiteware, china paint, underglaze, and lustre

7 x 7 x 20 inches

Finial Gold Star Mothers, 2020

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

7 x 7 x 20 inches

Finial Tapestry, 2020

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

7 x 7 x 20 inches

Finial Yellow Room, 2020

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

7 x 7 x 20 inches

Potpourri Pink, 2021

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

15 x 8 x 17 inches

Potpourri Missions Étrangères de Paris, 2021

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

15 x 8 x 17 inches

Potpourri Yellow Wall, 2021

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

15 x 8 x 17 inches

Potpourri Quinta de Goya, 2021

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

15 x 8 x 17 inches

Potpourri Arms, 2021

low fire whiteware, china paint, lustre, and underglaze

15 x 8 x 17 inches

Press Release

Locks Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings and ceramics by Philadelphia-based artist Jane Irish (b. 1955).

A prolific and self-described ‘history painter,’ Irish creates confrontations and coexistences in her art between realms of history that rarely collide. In an artist statement she writes, “I think of myself as a sort of international regionalist, finding the history of Philadelphia, and then letting that history lead me around the world.” This approach was perhaps most embodied in Irish’s epic 2018 installation at the historic Lemon Hill Mansion in Philadelphia (organized by Philadelphia Contemporary). For the project, she created a series of paintings based on the idea of ‘antipodes’—defined as hemispheric opposites referencing two points on the globe—and transformed two floors of the mansion into an immersive painted exploration of transhistorical space. Visual references in these paintings include the triangle trade of Henry Pratt, the 18th-century owner of the house; Poe’s writings in Philadelphia (Conchologist’s First Book, Barnaby Rudge, Pym narrative, etc.); 16th-century trade routes of Egypt and Vietnam; and paintings of the 1836 “Wilkes Expedition,” among others. The second floor of the space included imagery from the first national protest of Vietnam Veterans Against the War on Labor Day Weekend 1970, which began in Morristown, NJ, and ended at Valley Forge Park, steps from the Lemon Hill Mansion. Paintings from this series will be on view along with a selection of new works from 2019 and 2020.

Central to the exhibition is a series of new ‘tapestry paintings’ made of oil and distemper on hand-stitched linen and muslin. In these works, Irish uses two paint mediums and two types of fabric to create a hybrid picture plane that reflects her desire to construct and interweave multiple histories within a single painting. In the foreground, iconographical figures drawn from old masters paintings appear to float in milky ether across the surface of a traditional-looking pastoral setting. The narratives reference mythical and violent imagery from art history as well as moments of witnessing, prayer and mourning. Additionally, each tapestry corresponds to testimony from the Winter Soldier Investigations of 1971, organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW)—the archives of which Irish has collected and re-typed word for word in a performative act priming her painting process. An accompanying catalog with an essay by poet and art critic Raphael Rubinstein explores Irish’s use of source material in her imagery. 

Though not always clearly visible, the lineage of anti-war protest that began with VVAW is a central theme and subtext of much of Irish’s work, which explores ways an artist can embody resistance through the act of image-making. Irish says, “The overall intent of my work is to develop a visual myth and a visual truth about the build-up and aftermath of the Vietnam War and movements of resistance to it.” She calls this a form of “commemorating heroic resistance” and it reflects her longstanding engagement with Vietnam War protest movements, which were seminal to her youth in the 1970s.

Additional works on view include new paintings based on sketches Irish made on-site at the Prado and El Pardo royal hunting lodge in Madrid. In 2019 Irish traveled to Spain, where she made numerous drawings in the former residences of Spanish kings and Francisco Franco, where Goya tapestries are hung in the interiors. A continuation of her ongoing practice of visiting and recording the domiciles of old world rulers, these paintings are not straight realistic depictions of the opulent interiors but fervent and energetic renderings of the artist’s experience of the space. “Painting an interior, seemingly from life, or beginning from life, is only a cue. To me what follows is an act of truth. . . I paint in a view of it which tells the viewer the record is made by an emotive human being—corporeal artist, motif, and viewer in a single project of transforming or re-aligning the political act of seeing.”

Lastly, the exhibition will feature new ceramic ‘finial’ sculptures for which Irish appropriates the 19th-century architectural form as a means of depicting interiors in the round on the exterior of the objects. Additional ceramics include vessels shaped like ships which are based on historical potpourri holders produced by Sèvres in the late 1750s and early 1760s. These vessels are loaded with narratives and motifs from the period and beyond. As in her paintings, she says, “My work constitutes a reflection on paradoxes of decoration and political order. . . One can be oblivious to what is contained in the wallpaper or on a vase, but one does so in unrealistic detachment from the world. It is all right there is front of us, but not easy to see.”

The show will open February 23rd and the gallery will be open by appointment only. Please email info@locksgallery.com to schedule an appointment.

Writing
Jane Irish: Paintings Embedded With Echoes of War HyperallergicMarch 19, 2021

By Stan Mir

Writing
Power, Vulnerability and Responsibility: Jane Irish Confronts Colonization FriezeJuly 2018

by Bea Huff Hunter

by Cypress Marrs
Holding Together Opposite Poles: A Conversation with Jane Irish Art in AmericaMay 2018

by Cypress Marrs

By Edith Newhall
Jane Irish Philadelphia InquirerApril 19, 2018

by Edith Newhall

Writing
Jane Irish ArtforumSeptember 2016

by Bea Huff Hunter

Writing
The Resistance of Jane Irish HyperallergicMay 2016

by Stan Mir

Writing
Jane Irish Modern PaintersJuly/August 2015

by Paul Laster

Writing
Jane Irish: Sông Hu’o’ng: Withdrawing Room Huffington PostApril 2013

by Gabriele Vainsencher 

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