Folk Tale Paintings
“Myth is not fiction: it consists of facts that are continually repeated, and can be observed over and over again. It is something that happens to man, and men have mythical fates just as much as the Greek heroes do” -Carl Jung.
Myths and folklore last throughout centuries because they possess a special emptiness that gives us space in which to interpret them according to our own generational needs.
There is a tendency in the oral tradition to stay on the outside of characters. In myths, we do not find the interior voice of literature. We only know them by their actions. So each generation is able to project themselves onto the characters and situations. This happens because the meaning of myth is not a fixed entity. There is nothing static about these stories. They are not over. They are meant to be passed down generation to generation through the millennia. That is what is so exciting about working with them. I’m not coming from an intellectual, historical, linear angle. My interpretation is purely intuitive, flexible and open to contradiction. After all, it is through such dialogue that the stories will be kept alive.
Artists do not create in a vacuum. The romantic notion of the lone wolf genius who is an aberration in the culture is a supremely capitalistic notion. John Berger claimed that artists are not creators they are receivers. Just as Sean claimed these stories were not his, rather they were cultural deposits, sacred tales handed down. I see myself as part of a new generation that will take these stories and do something else with them. Once more they are handed down. To me, that is the most exciting part of the project. Artists do not invent anything. We channel the culture. We are vessels who receive influences and mix them with our dreams, until, in some strange alchemical process, we pour out work that we pray means something.
This body of work is based on the stories of Sean O’Conaill – the story teller of Cill Rialaig. Sean could not read or write. He only spoke Irish. Seamus O Duilearga set out from UCD to record all of his stories. It is almost unbearable to think that if these two men did not meet in the first half of the 20 century, eons of stories would have been lost in one generation; without a whisper, a light on the very periphery of Europe, would have gone out. This ancestral light is a gift to us, inhabitants of the technological globalized world.
These paintings are my personal response to the light of these stories.