Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, in association with Tate Liverpool, is delighted to host the first solo exhibition in Ireland by celebrated American artist Ellen Gallagher opening to the public on the 28th September 2007 and running until the 13th January 2008. Gallagher (b.1965) is best known as a leading contemporary painter, although she has also creates drawings, prints, sculpture and, in collaboration with Edgar Clijne, a number of 16mm films. Renowned for her reworking of popular black imagery, Gallagher draws on postwar magazines, dominated by advertisements for afro hairstyles, wigs and skin products aimed at African-American women, as well as film, science and music, to explore issues of identity, mutability and transformation. From such diverse sources and subjects, Gallagher creates works that are both visually stunning and imbued with conceptual richness.
Coral Cities features new and recent works and focuses on her ongoing series collectively entitled Watery Ecstatic, which explores the myth of Drexciya, a myth propagated by an underground Detroit techno outfit of the same name in the 1990s. An Atlantis-like underwater world, Drexciya is populated by a marine species descended from women and children who jumped overboard or were thrown from slave ships during the gruelling journey from West Africa to America. In this series of work their embryonic status is transformed into elaborate mythical figures, half human, half fish, and highly developed underwater species. Carving directly onto paper, elaborating with precise detail, and culling images from the 1930s through to the 1970s from publications such as Ebony and Sepia, Gallagher remixes representations of identity. The exhibition includes the epic painting Bird in Hand, representing a black sailor or pirate from Cape Verde, part tree, part root, whose head spawns a multitude of heads and text. As in other works historically specific cultural references are merged with Gallagher’s own personal biography as a black Irish-American woman. Gallagher revises and revisions the historic and fantastical to create a body of work that layers imageries and creates new cultural mythologies.
Ellen Gallagher was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1965, and lives and works in New York and Rotterdam, Holland. Her work first gained international attention at the Whitney Biennial in 1995. She has exhibited widely with recent solo exhibitions at the Freud Museum, London (2005), MoCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2005), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005) and was selected for the Italian Pavilion for the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.
This exhibition is organised in collaboration with Tate Liverpool and is financially supported by the Mondriaan Foundation. A full colour publication, published by Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and Tate Liverpool, is available.