A new body of work, The weakened eye of day, by Irish artist Isabel Nolan, conceived as a single project for IMMA, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Saturday 7 June 2014. The exhibition explores how light manifests as a metaphor in our thoughts, obsessions and pursuits and includes text, sculpture, drawings and textiles. Nolan’s works begin with the close scrutiny of individual literary or artistic works, or evolve out of consciously erratic enquiries into the aesthetics of diverse fields, such as cosmology, humoral theory, and illuminated manuscripts.
The exhibition takes its title from Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush (1899), in which the sun, described as ‘the weakening eye of day', is a dismal star drained of its force by a gloomy pre-centennial winter afternoon. As the sun’s gaze weakens, so flags the spirit of the poet who, until interrupted by birdsong, sees only the inevitability of death in the cold world around him. This show is a material account of the strangeness of the world from the formation of the planet’s crust to the death of the sun and the enduring preoccupation with light as a metaphor for truth.
Nolan’s works both seduce and disarm us. Her work is underpinned by a desire to examine and capture in material form the moments of intensity that can define our encounters with the objects around us; inexplicable and unsettling moments that leave us with a heightened awareness of what is means to be alive. For Nolan this exploration happens through making things – whether these things are sculptures, textiles, photographs or texts, monumental or intimate in scale, they are presented to us as tentative and precarious markers of the experience of our place beneath the sun.
The weakened eye of day presents the process of making in its expanded form and as part of the exhibition there will be a series of talks by guests, invited by Nolan, on subjects ranging from cosmology, philosophy and aesthetics. These talks and events are part of the on-going investigative enquiries that inform The weakened eye of day and Nolan’s practice.
Isabel Nolan’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Unmade’, the Return Gallery, Goethe Institut, Dublin (2012) and ‘A hole into the future’, The Model, Sligo (2011–12), which travelled to the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne, France (2012). Nolan was one of seven artists who represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition, 'Ireland at Venice 2005'. Recent group shows include ‘Nouvelle Vague’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); ‘Sculptrices’, Villa Datris, Fondation pour la Sculpture Contemporain, France (2013); ‘Modern Families’, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2013).
Isabel Nolan, The weakened eye of day is curated by Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA, and aspects of the exhibition will travel to Mercer Union, Toronto and Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery.