Retrospective of Artist Stephen Lawlor to be opened by John Banville at Hunt Museum Limerick

  • Diva Etching 65x50cm 2018 Stephen Lawlor - Hunt Museum Exhibition 2022
Diva Etching - Stephen Lawlor.

In a Liminal State, a retrospective exhibition displaying the work of painter and master printer Stephen Lawlor, will take place in the Hunt Museum from 12th May to 3rd July 2022. The exhibition explores many of the artworks featured in the newly published Gandon Publication Profile 29: Stephen Lawlor.

Born in Dublin in 1958, Stephen has exhibited and worked regularly in Sweden, Belgium and China. His figurative images can border on abstraction but there is always a strong connection with the history of European painting. His use of light and his focus on the past makes his work instantly recognisable. Images of women started to appear in his work after an uncanny encounter in 2004. His recent paintings have been described as ‘like Dutch Master on acid’ and can seem far removed from the spectral Geisha or Royal figures in his etchings, encased in the liquid black of their inky spaces.

In his introduction to Profile #29, author John Banville, says “Considering the paintings and prints of Stephen Lawlor, I am struck by how apposite is that notion of an art that makes visible the invisible space of air... That world exists, in these works, in a liminal state, oddly resistant to the eye’s grasp and yet wholly palpable, wholly there. Gazing into one of his canvases you find yourself being drawn deep and deeper into a landscape – or a ‘landscape’ – sumptuous yet uncertain, that is at once familiar and ineffably mysterious. It is a magical, slightly eerie sensation; you seem astray in a forest, a garden, a numinously shadowed cityscape, under a turbulent gold-and-umber sky that seems more solid, more grounded, than the ground you tread on.”

Speaking about the exhibition, Jill Cousins, Director at the Hunt Museum, said “In a Liminal State is a fascinating study of the influences on Stephen’s work. The exhibition contains gems from his early period as well as more current work, many of which give you feelings of tension and unease. You are in an uncertain place or space.”

Artists Statement

“From the mid 1980’s, I focused on multi-plate etching and I started painting in 1990. I have worked from the landscape and from the human figure, but I always return to exploring the lexicon of European painting and I am interested in incorporating the compositional structure, colour and light from classical antiquity.

"Iconography by artists such as Titian, Veronese, Rubens and Van Eyck has been at the heart of my practice since I began in 1983. After an encounter in 2004, I went through a radical change of perspective which shifted my focus to include the portraits of powerful women from those same centuries. I surround myself with these women from Tudor and Medici periods, the Royal Courts of Europe and the Floating World to try to reach back into the haze and absorb their emotional presence.

"The scenes and characters I explore inhabit our collective consciousness and, in recent years, I have started looking into images from cinema in the same way.”

Stephen Lawlor, 2022

Several prints and paintings by Stephen Lawlor will be available for purchase ranging from €160 to €9,000, as well as copies of the Profile #29.

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