Artists Takeover: Asbestos

  • Readings

Invited artists share ideas on their work and inspiration.

46 days before I was born a car bomb exploded on Lincoln Place, Dublin; five minutes before my mother walked past the car. I’ve always imagined what would have happened if she’d decided to pick up a package and been there five minutes later. This event has been a source of creative speculation in my work, making me think about my existence and how it manifests itself. What it is to be alive and how my ‘self’ is defined by my experiences and interactions.

Years later I discovered the blackboards that Joseph Beuys had created in his talk in the Hugh Lane Gallery in September 1974, only 3 months after I was born. Beuys spoke about the bombings, and he saw these talks as offering hope in a time of despair. I drew inspiration from these blackboards when I created the mural to accompany the Beuys show in the Hugh Lane in July. (Joseph Beuys: From the Secret Block to ROSC 14th July – 31st October 2021).

It was an honour to travel deep beneath the gallery with Barbara Dawson to see the blackboards in storage before the show. Seeing the storage racks roll out and looking at the raw energy of Beuys’ marks was a moment I’ll never forget.

  • Stephen Burke

    These Indiscriminate marks are akin to the work of Stephen Burke. He takes the ‘visual waste’ that surrounds us in the city and uses it to form his own painterly language. These marks could be the random shapes of paint that cover graffiti or the spray lines on roads used to show where water and electricity lines are. These marks are not created with creative intent, but the subconscious act of making them gives them a rawness that abstract artists are forever chasing. At present, he’s doing a residency with Unit 1 Gallery and has a show opening there in July.

    Stephen will be doing a talk in the Hugh Lane as part of the ‘Outside the Walls talk series on Thursday 7 October @1pm

  • Colm Weakliam

    Another emerging artist from the graffiti and street art scene is Colm Weakliam. His work plays with sculptural shapes rendered in a space between two and three dimensions. The juxtaposition between the flat surface and the perceived sense of depth gives his work resonance and energy. He’s another artist who’s challenging the preconceptions of work inside and outside the gallery

  • Brad Downey

    The final thing I’d like to share is a film by Brad Downey, who will be speaking in the Hugh Lane Gallery on Thursday 11 November @1pm The film ‘Melania’ is about a pipe layer, Maxi, born the same year and in the same hospital in Slovenia as Melania Trump. It follows Maxi making a sculpture of Melania from a tree stump.

    What I love about this, and Brad’s art in general, are the subtle layers of thought that go into what he creates. His work can often be misinterpreted, and he works with that tension. For me, he’s one of the most important artists of our time, and I’m always anticipating the next work he creates, as it shows a rawness and bravery that reminds me of Beuys.

  • About the Artist

    Asbestos is an Irish artist who’s been creating work on the street in a variety of media since 2003.

    His portrait murals explore the concept of identity that are a conversation with two versions of his persona. “Each mask portrays two versions of myself, one alive and one dead. The dead version is a fictional character that represents me, if I’d been killed in a car bomb”. The bomb he refers to was a real one that went off in Dublin 46 days before he was born, 5 minutes after his mother walked past it. “I’ve always been fascinated about the fact that I may never have existed.” So each portrait is created by two versions of his persona combining photorealism and abstract naive strokes.

    Alongside this he creates his Lost series, he sets out to find all manner of lost things using stickers and posters. He is searching for forgotten objects jolting pedestrians out of their daily routine. Anyone finding them can get in touch, and this part of the process creates a dialogue with the public. After 15 years of Lost posters, he’s still receiving helpful and curious mails from the public letting him know what they’ve found.

    Asbestos’ large mural work Pass Freely can be seen on 40/41 O’Connell Street, on the side wall of the AIB building and hoarding. This work is a collaboration with the Hugh Lane Gallery and presents a contemporary response to ‘From Secret Block to ROSC‘ our centenary celebration display of Joseph Beuys work in the gallery from 14 July -April 2022.

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The Eve of St Agnes Harry Clarke 1924