REBEL GODDESS

DRAGANA JURISIC & CATHERINE McWILLIAMS

29 NOVEMBER 2019 - 11 JANUARY 2020

Seen Fifteen is delighted to announce a new exhibition of photography and painting by artists Dragana Jurisic and Catherine McWilliams.  REBEL GODDESS brings together works by both artists that draw inspiration from legends of ancient goddesses as a conduit for comment on the pressing issues of our time.  In Greek mythology, Gaia was the ‘mother’ of Earth who gave birth to the sky, the heavens, the sea and the mountains.  Gaia is also mother to Mnemosyne, goddess of memory, and grandmother to the Nine Muses, the goddesses of artistic inspiration.  She is depicted as a strong matriarchal figure who rebels against the rule of successive gods.  The exhibition takes Gaia’s rebellious streak as its starting point.   

Dragana Jurisic’s series 100 Muses is a chapter in the ongoing photographic project, My Own Unknown, and part of a long-term exploration into the layers of female identity.  With 100 Muses the artist subverts the traditional art historical genre of the female nude and asks the question:  What happens when a female photographer turns her gaze onto the female body?  The one hundred subjects, who range in age from 18 to 85 years old, all answered to an open call.  In the artist’s studio they were given two props: a chair and a veil, and complete control over their pose.  The photographer handed editorial power to the women.  Jurisic describes the process as being liberating for both herself and her sitters: 

It became a therapy session that went both ways.  There were tears and laughter, and even dancing. When I asked why they felt like dancing, they said they felt free to be naked for the first time since being children.  There was no expectation of sex. They were not in a doctor’s office. The stories of oppression that we shared with each other, of abuse done to many of us, was shocking to come to terms with.  Every woman who participated provided a mirror. My attitude towards my own body, or shame, has changed drastically since then. I felt unburdened. I hope they did too.” Dragana Jurisic

This sense of shared experience is present in the next chapter of My Own Unknown, where Jurisic layers the nude portraits into a set of powerful multiple exposures, named Mnemosyne’s Daughters.  A final work, Mnemosyne, is an overlap of all 100 Muses portraits and an expression of collective female power.  

Female figures have played a central role in Catherine McWilliam’s paintings over a number of decades from the 1960s to the present day.  During the Northern Irish Troubles in the 1970s and 1980s they often appeared as isolated, ghostly forms set against a bleak landscape of security barricades and dark, oppressive skies.  In moments of hope during these dark times, they would metamorphose into celtic goddesses and rise above a lush green landscape with a sense of joyous freedom. McWilliams paintings during The Troubles elicit an underlying tension between the beauty of the rural countryside and the violence of civil war in the city.  

“The space that she depicts around these forlorn figures does all the work.  They are entrapped. They have little control or choice over their circumstances” Liam Kelly

Two new paintings, both inspired by the goddess Gaia, will be on display in REBEL GODDESS.  In Green Gaia the landscape and the goddess become one.  Gaia Burning represents rising concern for the landscape on a global scale.  Painted over the summer of 2019, as forest fires raged out of control in The Amazon, the Gaia depicted here is a warning that our earth is fragile.  


ABOUT DRAGANA JURISIC

Born in the former Yugoslavia and now living and working in Dublin, Dragana Jurišić received her PhD from the European Centre for Photographic Research in 2013.  She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of South Wales and Assistant Professor in Dublin City University. Working primarily with image, text and video, she has shown her work extensively and won numerous awards, including the Golden Fleece Special Recognition Award, IMMA 1000 Residency Award and numerous Bursaries and Project Awards. Her work is in collections including the National Gallery of Ireland, Arts Council Collection and Irish State Art Collection. Her first book, YU: The Lost Country received accolades worldwide. Her new book Museum, a collaboration with the poet Paula Meehan, came out in July 2019.

ABOUT CATHERINE  McWILLIAMS

Catherine McWilliams was born in Belfast in 1940 and has a distinguished career as an artist, with a history of exhibitions stretching back to the 1960s.  She studied at Belfast College of Art and went on to teach, becoming Head of Foundation Studies at Rupert Stanley College, until 1990.  In 1985 she was elected as a Royal Ulster Academician and she also opened, with renowned painter, Joseph McWilliams, the Cavehill Gallery, which operated from 1986 to 2014.  She has had numerous solo shows and has been represented in major Irish group shows in Ireland and abroad, including the Bi-Centenary of the 1916 Rising at Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, and Pandora’s Box at Arnolfini Bristol. In recent years her work was represented in the exhibition, The Art of the Troubles, at the Ulster Museum, Belfast.  Catherine McWilliams work is held in numerous Irish art collections, including the Ulster Museum and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  


OPENING PARTY
Friday 29th November, 6-9pm

OPENING HOURS
Thursday to Sunday, 12-6pm
And by appointment