Sense of Place, a new exhibition by multidisciplinary artist Jonathan Brennan, has opened at Vault Artist Studios in Belfast.
Featuring all new work created in 2022, this is Mr Brennan’s first solo exhibition since 2019 and, according to the artist, celebrates “atypical landscapes, places teetering on the edge, real views and imagined scenarios in and around Belfast “.
It continues at Mr Brennan’s studio in the Canteen Gallery at Vault Artist Studios in Tower Street until October 20.
The series of large oil on canvas and acrylic on canvas paintings celebrate neglected and hidden places, from warehouses to wastelands and buildings in need of preservation.
One series features buildings in the city center, including the Cathedral Quarter. They turn out to be blurred, ghostly residual images, as if they have already disappeared from memory. One of the works depicts a recently demolished but previously perfectly functional hotel, its elevator shaft still standing amid a pile of rubble.
The exhibition also presents experimental photographs in the form of a diptych, created during the year. Mr. Brennan left a tiny camera obscura on the roof of his studio to create two “solargraphs,” long-exposure photographs that track the path of the sun. The volatility of leaving the “camera” under the influence of the elements for a year can be seen in one of the last fragments, where water got in and caused the photo emulsion to work.
Mr Brennan said: “I tried not to think about what I wanted to paint, I just picked views that caught my eye in some way – while walking, cycling, from bus windows etc – and started painting at the scale I wanted did not work for before.
“Looking back, I can see that there’s an integrity to them that I didn’t expect—some of the work shows that line where nature meets the urban, which has always interested me.
“They all have in-between spaces, areas filled with character that give a sense of place to our city, but are sadly neglected.”
He said last month’s fire at the cathedral buildings in the Cathedral Quarter, home to many artists, demonstrated “how the neglect of entire neighborhoods can lead not only to a loss of identity, but also to a loss of livelihood.”
Mr Brennan, who is originally from Dublin, has lived and worked in Belfast for the past 10 years. He works with a variety of visual media such as graphics, painting, video and photography. His works are in private collections in Europe and the USA.
The experience of the place continues Friday to Sunday from 12pm to 5pm until October 30 or by appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vault Artist Studios is located at 4-84 Tower St, Belfast BT5 4FH