Seán Hillen's Photomontages at Bluewall Gallery

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 24th March, 2010 5:00pm

Seán Hillen's Photomontages at Bluewall Gallery

Newrygagarin 8 by Sean Hillen.

Photomontages by Seán Hillen opens at Bluewall Gallery, Cavan on the afternoon of Saturday, March 27, and runs until Tuesday, April 27.

A large review, including a selection of never-before-seen original works from the private collection of the important Irish artist Seán Hillen will be shown in the Bluewall Gallery.

From his earliest, made in the throes of the Northern 'Troubles', through the IRELANTIS works of the 1990s which Medb Ruane in the Sunday Times described as "bigger than anything the Department of Arts & Culture could invent", to his latest where he brings his lively visual intelligence to bear on contested myths in the post-9/11 global community, Hillen's collage and photomontage artworks are among the most iconic of recent decades.

Born in Newry, Co. Down in 1961, and having studied at the prestigious Slade School, Hillen has become well known for works which often bring dizzying and dazzling visuals as well as cutting humor to difficult and complex subjects. Quoting Marcel Duchamp who said he "made art to amuse himself, primarily, and then trusted to posterity", he has a fundamental belief in the value of art as an agent of communication and insight and hopefully, thereby, change. He likes to make work that is immediately arresting, highly accessible and at the same time complex and rich in allusion.

In the 1990s his much-admired IRELANTIS series seemed to catch the imagination of the nation and have since become part of the culture, appearing on almost 20 book covers and hanging in the high offices of state. Seamus Heaney opened the first exhibition and Fintan O'Toole wrote the introductory text for the first book, now itself a sought-after collector's item.

Hillen has also executed public sculpture and other commissions, from video for the Super Furry Animals and Sony Music to title graphics for the BBC, and from Stage Design to his design for the Omagh Bomb Memorial which has received popular and critical acclaim.

Last year his work was seen in China, Poland, Lithuania and the US, and this year will be a significant one in Hillen's career with six exhibitions planned, a new book by an eminent British publisher in the pipeline and interest in acquiring from major US Museums.

Several of his early photomontages based on his own documentary photos from the 'Troubles' have recently been acquired for permanent exhibition by three UK Museum collections and further abroad they are becoming more widely known, and studied internationally as 'masterworks' of the medium.

The Bluewall Gallery is pleased and excited to host this exhibition showcasing a new definitive edition of affordable but archival-quality prints, as well as the previously-unseen works, which will be simultaneously unveiled on the artist's and Bluewall websites.

• The opening reception at Bluewall gallery is this Saturday, March 27, 3pm-5pm. Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 2pm-6pm. Contact 049-4361627 or 086-2902493.

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