Dublin Contemporary: Terrible Beauty?

An international exhibition of contemporary art has just opened in Dublin – Dublin Contemporary 2011: Art, Crisis, Change & The Office of Non-Compliance.  Apparently the first such exhibition in Dublin since 1988 and spread across five venues, as well as the city itself.  In the Irish Times the verdict is somewhat mixed – perhaps understandably given the number of artists involved.

So extensive is Dublin Contemporary, with something like 114 artists involved in all, that this brief survey omits dozens of artists who are well worth seeing and many who really should be seen. It’s gratifying that Irish artists have put on such a strong showing, but that isn’t to disparage the international component, rather it’s an encouraging sign of how much Irish art has progressed.

You will not like everything in the exhibition, and a lot of what you see you may well find trivial and exasperating, but you’d be hard put not to like enough to make it more than worth your while. In the long run, the show’s success or failure depends on attendance and impact, both here and abroad.

In the Guardian, art critic Jonathan Jones likes the sound of it, but questions the quoting of Yeats.

So it is uneasy, to say the least, that all of a sudden, the times we live in seem to demand quotations from the eeriest prophetic verses of the 20th century. Are we really in times of “terrible beauty” once again? Are the troubling symptoms of the summer, from breaking glass to market shudders, really comparable with the bloody age in which Yeats had his revelations?

Dublin Contemporary sounds great. But I hope we can soon go back to living where motley is worn.

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