Art History is full of horses. From Renaissance paintings, such as Uccello’s famous battle and hunting scenes, to the work of Stubbs and Munnings, horses represent power, magnificence and glory. Although much studied and painted, the dynamics of the horse remained a mystery, people took bets on whether all four hooves left the ground when a horse was galloping – a question that wasn’t settled until 1872, when Muybridge’s famous photographs appeared.
Cars have replaced horses, and once central to our lives, horses are now confined to leisure and pleasure, but what do contemporary artists make of the horse? Many say horses are one of the most difficult of subjects, because it is so easy to over-sentimentalise, although in this exhibition, which features Irish and international artists Robert Armstrong, Katherine Boucher Beug, John Byrne, David Chancellor, Peter Curling, Conor Fallon, Anita Groener, Tim Flach, Maïder Fortuné, Nevan Lahart, Paddy Lennon, Nick Miller, Janet Mullarney, Perry Ogden, Michael Quane RHA, Simon Reilly, Dermot Seymour, Max Streicher and Hazel Walker, the results are anything but sentimental.
‘Over all, this exhibition looks at where art and horses have come together, and what each looks like explored through the eyes of the other. Some people are shy about loving art – thinking that they ought to like some things, and perhaps shouldn’t like others. Some are also shy about a love of horses; perhaps the memory of being a pony-mad kid makes us think we should have grown out of it. But through The Horse Show, we’re discovering that love and connection, and also bringing the love of art and horse worlds back together, showing the very best of both. Wild, wonderful, intoxicating and intriguing, The Horse Show rediscovers our passion for this astonishing animal.
Curated by Patrick T Murphy, RHA Director and Gemma Tipton, writer, curator and journalist. Tipton is currently Guest Artistic Director of Kinsale Art Week. Both love horses.
The Horse Show premiered at Kinsale Art Week, 2011.