What Lies Beneath?

What lies beneath:

Golden fields showed wet and clear by Eamon Colman 

Oil and mixed media on Yopo Japanese 280g acid free paper under acrylic

courtesy Solomon Fine Art

Golden fields showed wet and clear by Eamon Colman
Golden fields showed wet and clear by Eamon Colman 

Late 1970s, when Eamon Colman began painting, he initially focused his attention "on what I saw in front of me". A decade later, during a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre "I started to paint the landscape as experienced", and "stories, myths, place names" influenced his work, "not in a figurative way, but, as I felt them through the senses". In the studio the landscape was evoked through colour and form, in "an interplay that dances between a hinted figuration and abstraction".


That dance continues in his new show, The Width of Yourself. The title refers to an early 1800s court case in Graiguenamanagh and that Peg Washington challenged a building development restricting her water rights to the Duiske river resonates with Eamon Colman today. Washington was allowed a right of way, the width of herself, and "the title of my show suggests it does reference a measure of oneself that applies to me too".

Colman, now 62, lives in northeast Kilkenny. In the past he was a wanderer but since moving to Kilkenny in 2003 and having a family "the lust for elsewhere has been quelled". And yet his long-ago travels in India meant deep reds, bright blues, zingy yellows appeared in the work. The inspiration for this show, is "within a 30 mile radius from home".

His titles are mini-poems. Golden fields showed wet and clear, on Yopo paper, a paper "both fragile and strong" allows Colman to "totally mistreat it. I tear it, alter it, sand it, scratch into it, [it] allows a freedom of expression". This Golden fields work is deliberately asymmetrical, its shapes "influenced by the skewed pattern of fields around where I live".

Wherever Colman has lived he has created "natural environments that encourage wildlife and wellbeing, be that "a jungle of greenery" on the landing outside his studio in Henrietta St or his 3.5 acre garden in upland, rural Kilkenny, "a mix of wild and cultivated spaces, with a natural swimming pool, orchard, nuttery, streams, herbaceous border, courtyard gravel yard" and "stopping work to lean on a shovel allows me time to notice small things that inform my ideas". For Colman there is "a symbiosis between nature and making art".

His art is celebratory, spiritual. "Colour affects the human spirit, invoking moments of transcendence." Making art, gardening, walking bring happiness and "'a good day' comprises of making something that did not exist before I made it". Just like every work in Eamon Colman's new show.


The Width of Yourself at Solomon Fine Art until February 29. Other projects include a series of photographed small drawings with photographer Anthony Hobbs, and fine art prints with Stoney Road Press.


Sunday Indo Living

February 23, 2020