Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tom Phelan: Re-interpreting Nature

I confess to wanting to post this article in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, but matters of ink and paper delayed me. Irish printmaker Tom Phelan’s prints are an intriguing mix of abstraction based upon Nature and in another sense, totally descriptive of living with water and moving amongst waves. Then again one sees and moves over and around forces of nature, like boulders and large sea creatures like whales, etc. His re-interpretations are fluid and free of obstructions. They flow with Nature.

The asymmetrical placement of Phelan’s work allows us an easy entrance into his compositions. The simplicity with which he makes these images belies details he deems to be unnecessary for us to trouble ourselves with, but the massiveness of the forces and the movements created within the pieces allude to spaces and places larger than the composition can describe.

Phelan uses simple clear colors, with little textural disruption. They enhance the feeling of water or stronger, earthbound forms. Overall, Phelan understands his environment, and his images invite us to come along to surf or trek overland with him. Enjoy, my inked up friends. And, if you are in Vienna, stop in at Black Spot Press and say hello to one of our inked up brethren.

Printmaker extraordinaire Tom Phelan was born in Dublin, Ireland. After studying art in Florence and Dublin, he decided to move to Vienna, where he set up his own workshop and printing studio, called Black Spot Press. Since then, Phelan has printed for and collaborated with numerous Austrian and international artists and musicians, including the English indie band Tindersticks.

His own prints are based on his surroundings and various musical influences, the cities of Vienna and Hamburg, but the true feeling that comes across in these prints is his love of surfing and the sea. This is highlighted by Phelan's unease of feeling landlocked - what he calls his 'sea sickness' - which is seen in his series 'Lipsticks'. This is the name given to the first colorful fiberglass surfboards after World War II, on the American West Coast.

1997-1998: Il Bisonte, International School of Graphic Art, Florence, Italy
1989-1992: Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, Dublin
1982-1989: Blackrock College, Dublin

2004 to 2007: Dublin Graphic Studio manager and master printmaker
1996 to date: Technician and printmaker for visiting artists
1992 to date: Member and Keyholder of Dublin Graphic Studio
1990 to date: Freelance printmaker and painter

Residency Award for Artist Studios at Cill Rialaig Project, Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, Ireland (2006)
S.D. Aerospace Design, Tokyo, Japan for "Il Bisonte", International School of Graphic Art, Florence, Italy (1997-1998)

Public collections
Irish Embassy, Vienna
National Gallery of Ireland
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
Irish Board of Works
Contemporary Irish Art Society
S.D. Space Design Japan
Iona Technologies, Dublin

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