Mick Rooney RA – Of Pilgrims, Dreams and Dragons
Tuesday May 2, 2023
Private View: Sunday 14th May 2023
11.00am – 4.00pm
The Exhibition continues until: Saturday 3rd June 2023
View exhibition here
THERE BE DRAGONS
Rooney’s visual journey of the mind is of painted thoughts triggered by a Far East beyond the Cotswolds.
We seem to be at times with the poet-monk Matsuo Basho (1644-94) or the Zen poet-monk Ryokan (1768-1831), both pilgrims of the road, part of ‘the floating world’ (Ukiyo-e) for a while.
|First winter rain|
I plod on
Traveller my name.
|Form, colour, design|
Even these are things of the floating world
And should be abandoned.
In Rooney’s ‘Floating World’ there is certainly form, colour and design and though it be transient the paint – layered, stroked, scumbled, marks accidental, they hope to appear as if by a Zen hand guiding his imaginings.
A path is set out along which humanity follows. The players are ‘Everyman’. They are dressed and costumed by the whim of the paint. They move or rest with an intent quite insouciant of journeys’ end.
Somehow not yet dead
At the end of my journey
The autumn evening.
At 79 years old Rooney has dipped into an ‘Eastern’ dreamscape the better to tussle with the complex realities of the daily contract. From his standpoint the business of making the painted ‘traditional’ image is ever at the crossroads. Is painting still dead? What has taken its place? Has it been permanently subsumed by a horde of all dancing pixelated practitioners? Alive or dead the painted rectangle is all Rooney has to manufacture expression.
For this artist there is no pre-story within. The images are not in the literary publishing sense ‘illustrations’ to a text. In fact he maintains the opposite in that the viewers need to discover and write the story for themselves.
Back on the road the poet-monk may pass an unattached theatrical troupe carrying a large fabricated dragon. And somewhere a passive youth ponders a ‘Dragon Pound’. Perhaps for unpropitious dragons. And further along the stage seems set with a lightening tree and a dragon with puppet master: But we walk on.
In Rooney’s latest work there is geology with pigment under pigment trying to produce a palimpsest. Our journey through this ‘Floating World’ is surely one of surmounting its barbed contradictions.
The wind is fresh, the moon bright
Let us spend the evening dancing
As a farewell to old age.