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An Exhibition of Work from the IMMA Collection at the Market House Gallery
Tony O’Malley, Vinegar Hill, From Bree Hill, 1957, Oil on canvas, 45.5 x 52.5cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art.

MONAGHAN TOWN.- An exhibition of works from the Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art opens to the public at the Market House Gallery, Co Monaghan on Saturday 20 September 2008 as part of IMMA’s National Programme. Irish Art from the 1950s – 1970s includes work by renowned artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Colin Middleton, Cecil King, Tony O’Malley and Basil Blackshaw.

Jack B. Yeats, the foremost Irish painter of the first half of the 20th-century, spent a lifetime painting the folk life and culture of his country, depicting everything from simple, routine village scenes to romantic episodes around dramatic political and literary events. All of his paintings are imbued with a romantic sensibility. His distinctive style developed gradually, conscious of modern advances but at first more disposed to finding an Irish subject matter in keeping with nationalist ideas. St Stephen's Green, closing Time dates from 1950 when his work had reached an original form of expressionism, in which he continued to depict the scenes that had been important to him throughout his career.

Cecil King gave up a successful career as a business-man to become a painter. Self-taught he was drawn to the formalist aesthetic of American art critic Clement Greenberg who stressed that the primary concerns of painting should be with colour and flatness, with the properties of the medium itself. At first glance King's paintings seem to epitome of this self-obsessed approach but the internal dynamics of colour and shape generate tensions which link the work to the external world. King was closely associated with the establishment of the ground-breaking Rosc exhibitions of the 1960s and 70s.

Born in county Antrim in 1930, Blackshaw is one of the foremost Northern Irish painters of a group that also included Dan O'Neill and Colin Middleton. His post-expressionist treatment of the Northern Ireland landscape characterised his work throughout his career. The French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne is a key influence. The manner in which Cézanne repeatedly depicted Mont St Victoire in order to capture aspects of light, shade and mood is mirrored in Blackshaw's studies of Colin Mountain in Antrim. Anna on a sofa, c.1965, is not typical of Blackshaw's work, being more minimal in its composition. The canvas has been less exploited in terms of colour and composition than is characteristic of his style of painting. On the other hand, the artist tends to delineate his paintings with horizontal and vertical markings. This is clearly the case in Anna on a sofa, where a balance is upheld between the focal point of the figure and the use of linear markings.

The central aim of the National Programme of the Irish Museum of Modern Art is to establish the Museum’s core values of excellence, inclusiveness and accessibility to contemporary art on a national level. Focusing on the Museum’s Collection, the programme facilitates off-site projects and exhibitions in a range of venues and situations throughout Ireland . For IMMA the design and implementation of exhibitions and projects involves an engagement with the various communities, urban and rural, using the Museum’s Collection as the core resource to evoke a series of different responses and to foster a sense of ownership over the national Collection. The Museum aims to act as a resource at a local level through working in partnership and relying on the knowledge and concerns of the local community. Partner organisations are wide ranging and include a variety of venues both in traditional art and non-art spaces allowing for far-reaching access and interaction.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks and events. A primary school programme, supported by the Department of Education and Science, accompanies the exhibition.

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