Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin 15th October – 19th November 2015
In ‘the Lady from the Sea’, Derek Mahon’s interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s poem, the female character dreams of the sea. Born on the coast but now living ten miles inland, she describes herself as a ‘troubled woman on the land’, whose other life is ‘blue water and sea-brine’. The male character asks her ‘How can you live here with no real horizon?’.
Donald Teskey found Mahon’s version of this poem after completing a series of plein air paintings in Sligo and Mayo, the mysterious counties of the Northwest. The tension between sea and land which begins with life emerging from the water to inhabit the swamps and forests is the story of man’s pre-history. Perhaps this preternatural connection to the poem is the element that most resonates with the artist. And where the subject matter moves from the coast and heads inland, the poem’s female character follows the same trajectory.
In Teskey’s words he tries to capture the altering states of defined, clear and solid form ‘to define the etheral’ and ‘represent the illusory’. The ‘no real horizon’ of the poem referes to the physical lack of delineation that only sea and sky define. Of course the inference is that the female character also lives without a real future, without hope. Teskey does not make quite such a harsh determination with his painting but, with the Mayo landscapes especially, one cannot escape the grim history of famine and emigration. The landscape seems to mourn its human history.
Short video of the exhibition https://youtu.be/454YqpvZJ_E