Rita Donagh is well-known and respected as an artist and teacher, and this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see a large body of her work from the last 20 years. The exhibition comprises of groups of paintings and related studies charting the artist’s personal relationship with the political situation in Ireland. Donagh employs a map-like convention in her work, using preparatory drawings to develop a network of grids, contours, projections and aerial views in construction of her formally complex works. Often basing her paintings on images gleaned from newspapers, Donagh uses art as a distancing device, transposing violent incidents onto a formal framework and creating an alternative perspective, both literal and metaphorical.
Two of her most recent works demonstrate interlinked concerns with the personal and the political: a self-portrait entitled Slade shows her reflective strength as an artist and Declaration, based on a found image of the Downing Street Declaration of 15 December 1993, witnesses concern for the future of Ireland.
The exhibition is a collaboration between Cornerhouse, Manchester, Camden Arts Centre and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and is supported by the Arts Council of England and the Elephant Trust.