Monday, 19 March 2012


I recently attended the opening of the Oliver Cornet Gallery in Temple Bar, at the invite of a friend who is working there. A tiny space, it was nowhere near large enough to contain the people that spilled out onto the street blocking the ocassional passing car, and mingling with the crowds from the pub across the street. despite the cheap wine, the art itself was surprisingly rich. For another small independent fine art gallery I wasn't expecting much, but several of the artists showcased in the group show 'Convergence' were strikingly original. Maybe its after spending several months working in a conservative private gallery, where the art mainly consists of biscuit tin landscapes and the buyers were mostly bankers and big business men in designer suits, but I had developed rather low expectations of the contemporary Irish art scene. It probably helps that Oliver Cornet himself is a spry little Frenchman, with an evident taste for the delicate and whimsical. Most of the work was small, delicate studies in abstract lines and organic forms, from the ceramic shells and vessels of Annika Berglund, to the planescapes and prints of Hanneke van Ryswyk. One standout though was Mark Doherty's colourful manga-inspired drawings. Definitely cool enough to appeal to a younger generation of art makers and lovers, his work is also skillfully executed and with enough contemporary cultural and artistic references to pack a theoretical punch.
"He seeks to create alternate worlds in which to satirize our own, allowing us to look at our foibles exaggerated and thus challenge them by laughing at ourselves. Through this framework, he builds narratives which address such diverse issues as body image, our view of the 'other' in society, urban social isolation, man's conflicted relationship with nature, and  society's newfound adoration of science, celebrity and material wealth, among other things."

The comic strip like appearance encourages a narrative reading of his works, which often resemble posters or advertisements in Japanese fashion magazines. The images upon close inpection are all slightly warped or grotesque, with figures resembling robots or animals and the colourful patterns and designs make the pictures not so much joyful and appealing, as bad acid trip nightmare.