Hannah Ireland is a recent graduate from the Elam School of Fine Arts, finishing a BFA(Hons) in 2019. Winner of the 2019 Eden Arts Young Artist Award, and recipient of a Highly Commended Award at the 2019 Eden Arts School Awards, her work Declan, 2019, was recently acquired by the James Wallace Arts Trust collection. Her art practice playfully manifests across several modalities, where painterly considerations are of interest. Primarily focusing on the human figure, perhaps as an alter ego of herself in daily life, her creations are depicted in a (neo)expressionist style with conceptual undertones of social anxiety and existential isolation. Using the surrealist technique of childlike spontaneity, Hannah is able to tap into the well-spring of imagery in the subconscious mind and hidden aspects of human identity. Formally she floats on the borderline zone between objective reference and abstraction evoking an ambivalent relationship between the social and theatrical space. The artist translates the world of appearances into an imaginary, conceptual visual idiom where we seem to hide behind our true facial expressions. The suggestions of objective references trigger, despite their ambiguity, strong visual associations in the viewers’ mind. The rapid, agitated strokes create a pictorial brutality masked by an energetic field of lush colors. You could say that the exploration of the ego is her artistic process and to translate the complexity of her observations, a degree of abstraction is thus needed.
In short, her portrait compositions are ephemeral moments of materialized (self)-reflexivity that confront the individuals’ place in modern society. When we feel we recognize the extra-material face(s), their two-dimensional familiarity changes into a three-dimensional feast of unfamiliar potentiality. The naive, clown-like characters become unexpectedly sad and awkward. They expose a drastic truth about ourselves and the circus called life.
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