Celtic myths get reinterpreted through the paintings of Polish-born artist, Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly, in upcoming exhibition at The Doorway Gallery.
Goddesses full of grace in bright dresses and dark feral beasts – that’s what will greet you as you enter The Doorway Gallery, conveniently situated on South Frederick Street in Dublin City Centre. The title of the upcoming exhibition opening on the 29th of March – Celtic Legend – suggests where the artist, Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly, found the inspiration for a series of her mixed-media-encaustic paintings.
Those keen on Celtic mythology will have no problem identifying the main characters of these bright coloured works of art. Triple Goddess Danu, Deirdre, Queen Medb, the Children of Lir all come to life in the well-lit gallery rooms, showing emotions on their faces as if they decided to reject their divine nature for a while to wander among us, simple human beings.
You are an art-lover but not an expert in Celtic mythology? No need to worry! All paintings are accompanied with their titles and brief descriptions of the characters and myths depicted, making the main theme easy to understand even for those with little knowledge in the area.
That said, describing the exhibited paintings as ‘easily understandable’ would not do them justice. After discovering the legend behind the painting, in order to truly understand the whole story, one has yet to decipher the symbols present all around the godlike creatures – and there are plenty of them.
Nature comes under all possible forms, bringing both life and death, silence and chaos, peace and war, humility and power. Horses, as important to the Irish now as they were centuries ago, seem to change from painting to painting – sad and hurt in ‘Regret over Macha’, showing destructive abilities in ‘The Daughters of the Harp’. Flowers are ever present, bringing to mind harmony with nature like in ‘Homage to Danu’, revealing love and passion of ‘The Reluctant Bride’, or frightening the audience with their red as blood petals in ‘The Altar of Morrigan’.
Human characters are no less important than powerful goddesses; children often dominate the foreground while old men hide in the background – less visible but still there, completing the magical circle of life. In fact, some of the divine creatures are more human than godlike. It takes only one look at Áine in ‘Áine of Abundance’ to wonder – is this girl lost in thought silently enjoying the attention being paid to her, or simply contemplating the miracle of everyday life, like one of us? To find your own answers, enjoy free admission to the exhibition until the 24th of April.
The Doorway Gallery is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am till 6 pm (till 7:30 pm on Thursdays) and from 2 pm till 5 pm on Sundays. Works by Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly can be purchased at a price range between €2,200 and €3,300
The Doorway Gallery
24, South Frederick Street
Tel: 01 764 5895
Lead image ‘Brigit of Inspiration’ © Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly; other images courtesy The Doorway Gallery