Dublin Art – What A Day!

Today was another intensive art day. However, I first should begin with breakfast. Our “traditional” Irish breakfast consisted of an egg over easy, pork and beans, Canadian bacon, some kind of link sausage (little flavor), some kind of patty sausage (tasted a bit like Spam), white bread toast (whole wheat was not an option), and lots of tea. That was sufficient protein to keep me going until 6:00 p.m. Unfortunately, we haven’t found any breakfast alternatives other than pastry shops, so we will have the same tomorrow. On to the art.

The Chester Bailey Library on the campus of Trinity College is hosting an exhibit of Henri Matisse publications. This fabulous exhibition featured four different mediums used by Matisse: lino cut block prints, etchings, etchings with watercolor, and stencils of his cut paper works. All were works used to illustrate or accompany works of literature in limited edition publications. The block prints were for Pasiphae, Song of Minos (The Cretans) as reinterpreted by Henry de Montherlant. Etchings accompanied the poetry of Stephane Mallarme. Some soft-ground etchings and pencil studies illustrated an edition of Ulysses (James Joyce). Poems of Charles d’Orleans were illustrated by colour lithographs. And the last section featured Matisse’s famous series called Jazz, which the artist accompanied with his own written musings.

This exhibit spoke to my interest in block printing. Matisse’s use of simple lines to show a gesture and mood are exquisite. His bold use of color is exciting. On the way out they had a creative table to encourage viewers to try their hand and demonstrate their reaction to the exhibit. I sat down and produced Matisse at Dublin Castle, which I will attempt to use to create a block print next winter. While I was working on it two women came by and one remarked about how wonderful it was that they set up this area for children to make art. I looked up and with a smile said, “I’m young at heart.” You’ll have to wait until next winter to see my finished print.

The second wonderful art show in town is at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. It is Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This is an exhibit of works in the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection held by the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts. It was first shown in Istanbul and will go to London after here. I can’t begin to describe the stunning display of art, the wonderful descriptions and histories that accompany the pieces, and an additional collection of photographs by Guillermo Kahlo (Frida’s father), and photos of Frida and Diego by Martin Mankacsi, Bernard Siberstein, and Nickolas Muray. Wow! It was the most comprehensive Kahlo and Rivera exhibit I’ve ever seen and the details of their lives and work made it all the more alive. My favorite quote in the show was from Frida when someone labeled her a surrealist. She said she was definitely not a surrealist because she didn’t paint dreams and visions, she painted her life.

We took a stroll through an old graveyard behind the museum, which is housed in what used to be a military hospital. The sad graves that have fallen into ruin were a somber end to a very good day. Our day ended with dinner at a the same neighborhood pub we dined at last night, The Celtic. I had Irish Stew (Guiness in the gravy) and Jean had salmon cakes. We finished up with white chocolate cheesecake and Bailey’s. This was by far our most extravagent meal since we arrived in Europe, but it felt good after such a great art day.

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About Paul

I'm retired, but working at painting, photography, and song writing. We like to travel and paint plein air in new places. Of course that's also where photography comes into the picture, so to speak. Sometimes I get inspired to write songs about the people and places we visit.
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