Fontwell Helix Feely - Introduction

Pádraig Timoney's work is personal (obscure), playful, and generates a dazzling array of images. As source material Timoney mostly works with what he has observed, thought, read or dreamt. He processes such material in order to recreate it within the context of a painting. While he is interested in painting as a place for constructing illusions, his paintings also seem to be material analogies for the effects of time, memory and imagination on our cognition of reality. Sometimes observations are extrapolated figuratively or realistically; often they are the trigger for original and luminous forms of abstraction. Timoney has developed arcane ways to mutate the surfaces of his paintings, as if they were spaces for alchemical transformation, where ideas and occurrences are re-materialised. One approach experiments with the instability of rabbit skin glue – an historic ground for oil paintings – such as by dripping it between stacked canvases using boiling water. Another exploits the corrosive qualities of photographic developer as it is spread over oil-painted images. Despite the idiosyncrasies of Timoney's practice, in many ways he adopts a traditional role of the artist, recording events and observations, mediating subjective and cultural memory, albeit magnifying and manipulating the results.


Unsurprisingly Timoney is an active photographer and always prints a selection from his extensive archive for each exhibition. In his words, his photographs function as 'messages about where the paintings are coming from'. Most of his exhibitions also include objects (which are sometimes applied to paintings, emphasising their materiality and constructedness). But Timoney's exhibitions are principally characterised by paintings that appear radically diverse. No formal or stylistic approach seems to dominate. This allows him to elude an authorial identity (and he likes to keep viewers 'on their toes') not through postmodern ambivalence but rather as a reaction to the variegation of experience. It is important to him that there is no fixed viewpoint. Nothing seems stable or resolved, opening up a world without certainties. A monoculture is resisted. Growing up in Northern Ireland in the seventies and eighties, Timoney remembers the emergence of local and state propaganda images in public space, and how a politically educated public understood the ways in which these were constructed, that many could not be taken at face value and none claim to dominate.