Art Critic Reviews

Fingal Independent 01/06/2015

Article about Skerries seals sculpture for Florville park , Skerries , Co. Dublin

‘Nationwide’ RTE 1 Television 20/10/2008

This television programme was made about Paul’s exhibition of twenty paintings titled ‘Celestial Puddle’ which was held in Wexford at Denis Collin’s gallery and was part of the famous Wexford Opera Festival. The programme was aired on the 20th October 2008.

‘Nationwide’ RTE 1 Television 30/03/2005

This television programme was made about Paul’s year long trip to Australia and New Zealand ; discussing the trip and the resulting paintings. The programme was aired on the 30th March 2005.


Noelle Harison – Art Critic – RTE Ace Review 15/11/2001

Paul D’Arcy New Paintings
24 November 2001

Initially Paul D’Arcy’s new collection of paintings seem to sit comfortably under the banner of surrealism – his magical landscapes with their bright colours create a powerful expression of the subconscious mind. However his philosophy is far more grounded than this dream world.

Employing a strong symbolic vocabulary his paintings are an intriguing fusion of the imaginary and the real. His exploration of reading symbols can be taken back to the Middle Ages, but is most notably linked to the work of painters such as Van Eyck and Bosch who were part of the Northern Renaissance. At that time the reading of this hidden language made these works very much markers of their time, important documents of the world these artists were living in. So too with D’Arcy ; the most compulsive character of his art is its fusion of aesthetics with history.

D’Arcy literally taps into political and social developments in the modern world. Specifically chosen newspapers are specially preserved and block mounted on panels. D’Arcy then paints on top of these the final effect is one of gradual revelation. The surface of his pictures is smooth, and highly finished, yet upon further scrutiny, we can discern newspaper fragments. On the back of each canvas D’Arcy writes the date, the article and which newspaper is used.

Thus D’Arcy’s symbolic participants – pelicans as ancient witnesses, fish as “carriers of life”, pools of water as “givers of life” and trees as representing the “cycle of life” – take on an even deeper poignancy.

‘Wading Pelican’ refers to the Foot and Mouth Crisis in Ireland. Here we see the pelican in deep water, treading very carefully. The deep curve of shore against water suggests a strong urge towards protection. In ‘New Day’ D’Arcy’s landscape is unusually marked by something quite familiar to home territory a lone sheep. However his verdant green banks, contrast with an alien tree, and an equatorial pink sky. The newspaper article emerging from this panel refers to asylum seekers in Ireland. With a mix of ethnic and home-grown elements, the ultimate image is something quite hopeful, emphasized by the painting’s title.

In contrast, works like ‘Waiting’ speak of human anguish in the face of political expediency. D’Arcy’s broken landscape is rooted in a heavy, dead pool of water there are fish present, but they appear arrested in movement. It comes as no surprise to learn that this composition refers to the Kursk submarine tragedy. A tiny blackbird cries out it is a messenger, which carries with it the fragility of human spirit.

D’Arcy’s paintings go beyond description; as time-based pictures much of the compositions move from day to twilight, or from night to dawn, signalling an awakening. Paintings like ‘Black Pelican’ demand personal scrutiny: a large pelican gives us a sinister stare; red, white and blue (America) features strongly and the text, “Timothy McVeigh sorry for pain” percolates through. The challenge is to look at our own criteria for what is right or wrong. Is there room for retribution?

Not all of D’Arcy’s pieces carry such heavy political import, but they all encourage a very personal and emotional response. Works such as ‘Soul Singers’ and ‘Feeding Imagination’ celebrate the healing capacity of music, and literature in the modern world. The power of music upon the human psyche is again picked up in ‘Listening to the Choir’ a perfectly balanced composition of Midnight blue, moving to pale Dawn blue. A young girl stands in profile, she is utterly still, listening. We get a sense that she is on the precipice of life. Combining the magical tiny stars spiral in the night sky with the mundane the girl has an inoculation scar on her shoulder D’Arcy creates an immediately identifiable image.

The children in D’Arcy’s paintings appear as confident protagonists. In both ‘Girl with a Yellow Canary’ and ‘Destiny’ the two children seem to be showing us something, bearers of lost wisdom. Perhaps D’Arcy is nudging us to listen to our children, the participants of the next generation.

The products of three years, D’Arcy’s new paintings are an assertive body of work. Rising out from the confines of the frame, the paintings appear as blocks of colour and form. Gradually his landscapes begin to take on a less fantastical quality the red mountains, and intense blue water, the big skies, and gnarled twisted trees possess the same spirit as the much of the land of Africa. It comes as no surprise to learn that D’Arcy spent his early childhood in South Africa and Namibia. Even his fish are based on a species called Chiclid from Lake Malawi. These paintings combine bold visual imagery with subtle intent these are the times we live in.

Peter Jordan – Art Critic : Reflection

” Many of Paul’s works consist of a subject matter which conveys a comment on human life through the inclusion of specific objects and images acting as varitas symbols of mortality.

His awareness and appreciation of the historical precursors to his work ; particularly art of the seventeenth century ; imbues his own contemporary images with added complexity and richness. This awareness also provides a deeper foundation to the ‘sense of time’ which is central in his work.

Paul’s visual conundrums thus offer both intriguing interpretive possibilities in terms of decoding his ‘language of signs’ and at the same time gives us the chance to enjoy his compositional ability and sumptuous colour schemes.

The renowned American Modernist critic Clement Greenberg suggested that all great art should strive for an exciting tension between visual appeal and interpretive possibility, and I believe that Paul has gone a very long way towards achieving just this. “

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