As a painter, my key concern is to investigate the relevance of painting in a digitally-mediated world. This body of work has been constructed by a process of experimentation with a series of traditional baroque-inspired themes, spliced together with over-painted elements associated with digital-based imagery. The traditional elements have been appropriated from sources within the Dutch, Spanish, Flemish and Italian baroque painting canon, combined and juxtaposed to create a series of miniature tondo portraits and capriccio-type fantasy landscapes. The digital-inspired elements overlaying the traditional subject matter reference a variety of sources (C.G.I., games, image manipulation software, glitch-art, etc.).
refers to the underlying drawing, the choices and corrections that
the artist makes while developing the composition, correcting areas by painting over them, discovered years sometimes centuries later revealing themselves to the modern viewer by the fading top layer of paint, 'Pentimenti' can also reveal when the painter's original work has been corrected, often in response to socio-political, moral or
fashion imperatives – or simply through complacent restoration.
Thus the 'definitive' (often canonical) work reveals itself as
something which is not a solid given, but the outcome of a fluid,
changing dynamic. In today's world, there is also a certain
impermanence to digital images – we can alter and manipulate them as often as we wish which gives them a certain malleable quality.
My initial access to most of my reference material examined in these works is via the internet. With the assistance of a Thomas Dammann Jr. Memorial Trust Award, I was able to travel to see some of the most important works from the baroque canon in situ. This offered me the opportunity not just to examine the works up close, but also to make mental comparisons between the digital versions and the original works ‒ a process of analysis, deconstruction and de-composition which I then mapped on to the actual making of the paintings.
In the sometimes ludicrous extremes of the high baroque (e.g., Pietro da Cortona), viewers were offered an illusion of total immersion in a painted world – echoing the immersive experience presented at any moment today through a variety of digital portals. In these works, I seek to create what I term 'Neo-Pentimenti' – digital corrections, alterations, interventions and degradings/decompositions combined with the underlying traditional imagery. By using the over-painted elements to disturb the three-dimensional painterly illusion created by the brush-stroke, my aim is to introduce visual interventions which both repel and attract the viewer's attention, creating a new aesthetic, one that subverts the often didactic and singular reading that traditional figurative painting presents.
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Sean Molloy wears his love of the old masters on his sleeve in recent works, painting quite literal reproductions of what look like seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century Dutch and French landscapes. Yet for all their period specificity, these images remain next to unidentifiable. They might be details of more iconic works, generic stand-ins for pastorals of the past, but Molloy considers the past as not entirely retrievable, and various formal devices inflect his bucolic vistas. Horizontal, vertical, and diagonal stripes, bars, and blocks; overall grids; more localized phenomena that evoke areas of pixilation; and, in one instance, a reversal of tone that recalls solarization disrupt the pictorial field. The forms often recall those of modernist abstraction, but equally the glitches of digital imaging. They bar us from entering into these landscapes, ambling among these Classical and staffage figures, and remind us of our distance, cultural and technological, from the solace of the natural world of our ancestors. Paradise lost.
Joseph Wolin (critic and curator)
2011 – 2013 MFA National College of Art & Design (NCAD)
2008- 2011 BA (Hons) 1st class Fine Art Painting NCAD Dublin
1999- 2000 Glasgow School of Art Fine Art Painting
1998- 1999 University of Brighton Fine Art Painting
2019 Artist in Residence Cloverhill Prison (Arts Council funded Visual Artists in Prison Scheme)
2018 Artist in Residence Stephen McKenna PPRHA Studio residency, Bagenalstown, Co, Carlow
2018 Artist in Residence Cloverhill Prison (Arts Council funded Visual Artists in Prison Scheme)
2017 Artist in Residence Cloverhill Prison (Arts Council funded Visual Artists in Prison Scheme)
2016 Artist in Residence Cloverhill Prison (Arts Council funded Visual Artists in Prison Scheme)
2021 Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary
2020 RHA Really Helping Artists Micro Grant Award
2020 Fingal County Council Public Art Commission
2020 Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary
2019 Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary
2017 RHA studio residency Jan 27th - July 27th
2016 Fingal County Council Artist's Support Scheme bursary
2016 Thomas Dammann jr. Memorial Trust Award
2015 Thomas Dammann jr. Memorial Trust Award
2014 K&M Evans Painting Prize (184th RHA Annual Exhibition)2013 Longlisted for Saatchi New Sensations Prize http://www.saatchiart.com/Molloy
‘Widen the circle’ The RHA’s 185th Annual exhibition, by Christín Leach Hughes, Culture Magazine, Sunday Times, 7th June 2015
https://painttube.wordpress.com/category/paintings-as-they-are/ November 2013
‘Top Drawer’ The RHA’s 183rd Annual exhibition, by Christín Leach Hughes, Culture Magazine, Sunday Times, 9th June 2013
‘The Post-Modern Advance’, by Gerry Walker, Irish Arts Review, vol. 28 No. 3, September – November 2011 http://seanmolloy.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Irish-Arts-Review-2011-for-webpage2.jpg
‘Mind the paintwork’, by Christín Leach, Culture Magazine, Sunday Times, Sunday 24th June 2011
‘A challenging, fresh take on a battered world’, by Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, Friday 17th June 2011