Venue: Norman Rea Gallery
Rating: * * * *
Place Making, on display at the Norman Rea Gallery, is a bold yet engaging exhibition of sculpture, prints and paintings by David Fitzpatrick. His work seeks to explore and capture the feelings of a specific environment, combining aspects of natural and man-made forms to express his ideas.
The stark surroundings of the Gallery offer the blank background necessary to fully appreciate Fitzpatrick’s work. Although there is nothing flamboyant or decadent about Fitzpatrick’s work, there is something very appealing about the sharp lines and muted colours that encapsulate his art. His larger-scaled sculptures are not only eye-catching; their crisp, austere lines highlight Fitzpatrick’s architectural background and his continual fascination with city planning and urban design.
The exhibition explores the development of Fitzpatrick’s pieces, in particular his fascination with the concept of place and special awareness of the practicalities of applying these ideas to a functional design. The progression and advancement of his work can be best seen in the five part sculpture: Bridge of Five. The different stages of this work are delicately connected together through Fitzpatrick’s exploration of material and his meticulous detail.
Though perhaps not so obvious when placed in the same room as his sculptures, Fitzpatrick’s prints and paintings also deserve considerable attention. While it is easy to become distracted by the impressive sculpture, to give the prints and paintings only a cursory glance would be a disservice to a body of work that not only confirms the ideas expressed by Fitzpatrick’s sculptures, but also expands upon them.
Place Making also spreads beyond the confines of the main gallery, with sculptures also being displayed outside in a public area. In theory, this expansion should allow for a greater exploration of the ideas suggested by Fitzpatrick’s work, including the perception of place and location. It should also open up the exhibition beyond the confines of the gallery, allowing and encouraging more people to directly engage with pieces of contemporary art. The problem, however, is that instead the work located outside feels disconnected from the art inside the gallery. The pieces also seem lost in the context of the designated outdoor exhibition area. A space bigger than anticipated, the pieces being better suited to indoor display.
Though Place Making is only on display for a few more days, it is certainly worthwhile to set aside some time in the pre-Christmas rush to visit this intriguing exhibition. It offers an opportunity to step back for a moment and reflect upon the questions posed by Fitzpatrick’s work, while enjoying some fantastic examples of contemporary art.
Place Making will be showing in the Norman Rea Gallery until 18th December 2009