10 shows to see this September
Isabel Nolan, CAG – Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, through 2 October
Isabel Nolan’s own previous literary sources include George Eliot, Hippocrates, John Donne and Shakespeare, and the Dublin-based artist’s recent body of work at CAG Vancouver, The weakened eye of day, spins off from Thomas Hardy’s fin de siècle poem ‘The Darkling Thrush’ (1900), whose ‘weakening eye of day’ apostrophises a wintry sun. From here the Irish artist considers light as metaphor; the sun as a symbol; and vast cosmological events, from the formation of the earth’s crust to the sun’s own eventual burnout. Nolan, heedless of outmoded formal distinctions, moves – in an evolved version of a 2014 show for the Irish Museum of Modern Art–from a huge textual scroll to small abstract paintings, sprouting plantlike sculptures to chromatic carpet-making, murals to steel sculpture, while sidestepping the hubristic notion that works in any media can truly reckon with the enormity of her subject matter. The work’s poetic spaciousness is a gift, though. In ‘The Darkling Thrush’, the narrator hears a thrush singing, out of ‘Some blessed hope, whereof he knew/And I was unaware’. Spend enough time in galleries, and you’ll know how the listener feels.