Echoes of Brooklyn Whelan’s earlier incarnation as a creative director can be found in his new solo show, Strike Now Riot Later. He demonstrates an understanding of the structural flow and sweeping rhythm of popular culture as, in some works, the clouds float from one canvas to the next. A delicate balance between urban scrawl and gallery, the paintings drift along an ephemeral line between abstract and real, gestural mark making and meticulous rendering, stylistic boldness and nuanced composition.
But under all of that, there is a hint of something more. Pareidolia – that instinct we have to see significant forms where none exist – kicks in. A hidden message emerges and shapes appear before fading back into the cloudscape.
These are works of a reduced palette, but containing unexpected flashes of colour – they’re so thoughtfully considered that there is both a richness and a subtlety to them, a sense of both instinctual harmony and muted beauty.
Reflected straddles the intersection of gender. It examines the grey matter that sits in between masculinity and femininity and coerces an observer to consider their place via the use of line and vast negative space. The fact that the portraits are of the artist is not necessarily a point of fixation.
Tierney’s physical form acts as a vessel to carry ideas that shatter socially defined and often rigid confines of gender presentation. Through the use of line alone, Tierney is able to convey genderlessness.
Drawing upon the poses adopted by haute couture models in fashion magazines and on runways, the artist is able to evoke a vulnerability that permeates the layered imagery in a way that the subject alone cannot.
When deconstructing his work, an observer is presented with a stacked image which reinforces the three dimensional makeup of collage art and the multifaceted nature of gender. There is a deliberate uncertainty - the collection is playful.
The overarching themes of identity and personal exploration are peppered with the idea of pure, aesthetic beauty. The images are raw. They have been manipulated not via computer programs but rather the physical act of slicing an image and recomposing it. The meaning of the original photograph shifts to convey something entirely different simply by having body parts that don’t traditionally adhere together, fuse.