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Michael Hoppen Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Eamonn Doyle
END. The Box © Eamonn Doyle. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery.

LONDON.- Eamonn Doyle’s photographs are regularly exhibited internationally, although it is when seen en masse and staged together, that their collective dynamic and sensory drama becomes truly apparent. This is what Michael Hoppen Gallery is undertaking in London, in May 2019.

The exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery has been hung over two floors and is a comprehensive and diverse showing of Eamonn Doyle’s work which runs in tandem with his solo exhibition at the RHA, Dublin. The show in London explores Doyle’s various interpretations of his preoccupation with the movement of people, meanwhile, the exhibition in Dublin is set to be the largest of any photographers work ever to be staged in Ireland - and will tour globally thereafter.

Michael Hoppen Gallery showcases a select from the series i and On, which is being shown alongside The State Visit (a body of work comprised of 1,000 images) and his newest series K. New and previously unexhibited images are being displayed amongst the familiar, just as the city and its people perform their day-to-day existence in an ever-changing, ever-repeating rhythms.

In i (a title which is a direct reference to Samuel Beckett’s Not I), we follow elderly individuals along Dublin’s streets as they go about their daily routines in the city. Shot from above and often from behind, they are almost entirely isolated against their backgrounds of pavement and road, with little or no sign of the busy Dublin world that surrounds them. The images take great care in the details of fabric, in the poise of figure and clothing, in their surrounding landscape, and in a certain amount of dust. Doyle has said of his work; “I usually tried to avoid showing the faces. Not showing faces seemed to be a way to evoke the very unknowability of these people, and perhaps, by implication, of all those with whom we have such fleeting, urban encounters”.

ON follows the series, i, and opens out to history more directly than its predecessor. Its subjects are photographed mostly from the front and from a lower angle. It’s a presentation that opens out their world where the mysterious, faceless subjects of i were flattened against their worlds, the people in ON stand out and strike out against their environments. Black and white giants stride across the images, faces, bodies, buildings and skies loom large towards the low-angled camera. Can this really be the same city as i?

With K, Doyle moves away from the urban east coast, to the western Atlantic edge of Ireland, and then in to the south of Spain. Throughout 2018, he hunted out landscapes that appeared out of time or in a parallel world, untouched by human presence. We follow a figure that shape-shifts as it travels across these landscapes. Entirely veiled in cloth, spectral and changing in colour as it is pushed and pulled by the forces of gravity, wind and light. Though, at first, the Dublin work and K may seem quite different, they are deeply connected. While the Dublin images are Eamonn’s recordings of what was happening on his doorstep —the images of K see Eamonn explicitly staging a disruption, placing a kind of spirit figure into the landscape in front of him, to reveal the unseen forces that shape what lies within the skin and fabric of the self.

Shot during the days leading up to the state visit to Dublin of Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, State Visit documents 1,000 manhole cover along the same streets that i and On would come from in the immediate years following. The covers have all been marked or stenciled with yellow and white paint to signal that they have been checked by security, and to reveal any subsequent tampering. The calligraphic marks include squiggles, stars and parallel lines, but also shadow-stencils of spanners and other tools. Doyle was able to follow each security inspector as they moved through the city, forensically identifying them by their signature style of mark-making.

Irish music producer and celebrated photographer, Eamonn Doyle, burst into the contemporary photographic world with his recordings of people and the city of Dublin. Three highly acclaimed photobooks i, ON and End, as well as his new body of work, K, have emerged over the last five years with content that has cemented Doyle’s status as the Emerald Isle’s most important photographic artist working today.

Born in Dublin in 1969, Eamonn Doyle graduated with a Diploma in Photography from IADT in 1991. He spent much of the next twenty years producing music and working in the independent music business, founding the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF) alongside the record labels D1 Recordings and Dead Elvis.

When he picked up a camera again in 2008, 20 years after putting it down, his camera became another method to continue working with a kind of music, honing-in on a beat, on the movement of people as they went about their daily business.

“There is a threaded pulse that runs beneath the surface of this street. Sometimes, in one of those quiet, eerie moments of the night when the city briefly stills itself, as if to open out its sighs, you can almost hear it — you can hear it as a kind of low, insistent throbbing, almost a rhythmic sequence.” — Kevin Barry, from Eamonn Doyle: Made In Dublin, Thames & Hudson, 2019, (Imminent release.)

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