Making A New World is Patrick Redmond’s exhibition of new paintings made, for the most part, in household gloss paint. Brightly coloured, deceptively simple, they seem to oscillate between landscape and painterly abstraction. What imagery there is discloses a concern with the elemental, rock and ravine, and the prophetic sign, an arcing comet, a falling sky.
It would be fair to say that the universe Redmond evokes is fragmented, indifferent, absurd – an elaboration upon that ‘existential divorce’, identified by Camus, “between the mind that desires and the world that disappoints”. The works also deal with ideas of time, the scouring remoteness of geological time, the slippery present, the promissory utopianism of the 19th and 20th centuries. The artist’s own attitude to ‘past futures’ or historical horizons of expectation can be gauged by his allusion in the show’s title, to Paul Nash’s 1918 painting, We are Making a New World. The sun rises over a Western Front landscape of splintered trees and churned mud. It is, Graeme Stout argues, a description of “one of the first great examples of the Anthropocene age as nature is shattered and replaced with a truly “human” landscape”. Yet the bitter irony in invoking this ‘New World’, so truly human as to be almost unimaginably alien, is, for Nash, intertwined with a quality of an enthralled encounter.
Metamorphosis was at the heart of his creative vision – however incongruous in the context of horrors of war, he saw in the elemental, regenerative energies of nature a deeper sense of ‘making anew’.
For Redmond, the starting point is in cut paper collages made from old National Geographic magazines, travel and science books. These source materials are an image archive of once distant and exotic places and represent a sphere of authoritative knowledge, now circumscribed or outmoded. The collages then serve as studies or drawings for the subsequent paintings but, more than that, collage is a prime enabling principle of his working process. The spontaneity and experiment afforded by collage, the heterogeneity of everyday materials it encourages, even the very flatness of collage give him free play for invention and freedom of gesture during their translation into paintings. The movement between mediums has accelerated a drive to simplify and abbreviate. Ultimately, in the artist’s own words, the challenge of art is to set the ego and expectation to one side:
Redmond explains, “It’s kind of a psychological struggle at times to let or give myself permission to do very simple things, there’s a kind of annihilation attached to it somehow.”
 Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
 Graeme Stout, Painting Abstraction/Observing Destruction at the Front in ‘Great War Modernism: Artist Response in the Context of War’, 2015.)
Patrick Redmond was born in Dublin in 1976. He studied at IADT and graduated in 1999. He has participated in group and solo exhibitions both nationally and abroad, most recently in Seen Not Heard, Crawford Gallery, Cork, 2019 and Here/There in Wexford Art Centre, 2019.
Until recently his work was representational, consisting of figurative oil paintings and drawings. Since 2018 his work has experienced a significant shift, rejecting his former approach in favour of more spontaneous working processes. This exhibition at the RHA Ashford Gallery is the first solo presentation of this new work in Dublin. Patrick Redmond lives and works near Gorey in Co. Wexford.
Image: Patrick Redmond, Untitled 3, 2019, Gloss paint on wood, 91.5 x 74cm, Image courtesy of the artist.