Once every so often we are given an insight into the inner senses of an artist, and the significant processes that have been undertaken to achieve a body of work. Sunset Studies provides such an opportunity for us.It’s not as if this is a sudden discovery of talent – Aaron Kinnane has been a “clever painter” for some years and has produced remarkable, if somewhat fanciful and whimsical images of horses ablaze with light and shadows. But the transition from that genre to this was, according to Kinnane, abrupt and probably something akin to Saul’s conversion to Paul on the road to Damascus.
Kinnane’s own epiphany was the realisation that he had been kicking against the pricks of frustration, when all the time his talent had been waiting to be targeted on something more important.Sunset Studies reveals an altogether more serious and considered artist with real credibility, an artist who has with courage abandoned himself to instinct and applied himself with rigour to a disciplined painting practice that requires the effort and cooperation of all his sensory faculties – visual, auditory, tactile – so that his perception is alive and acute. Kinnane’s paintings are made against the background of selected musical pieces; Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony no. 3 for example, provides an emotional reservoir that the artist draws from when applying paint to the canvas – itself an emotional and expressive act. The energy in his paintings is intense. His use of the knife is deft, bold and agile, while somehow delivering an overall subtlety and beauty in the finished painting.
With this body of work, Aaron Kinnane has embarked, in a very real sense, on a new career. This marks his courage or his confidence – or both. It is not often that an artist throws the past into the pail and re-joins the ranks of emerging artists. But here he has re-established his footprint on the art world in no uncertain manner. The works have a consistency, a composure and a uniqueness that make them instantly his own, and they have a strength of character that demands our attention.
There’s a dynamic tension in this work. Coupled with the emotional and spiritual influences that are at the core of these paintings, there is also an opposing level of the cool and analytical that allows Kinnane to bring colour and light from the depth of black. He mixes colours that may be individually improbable in a landscape, to accomplish a combined colour that is believable and truthful. And in applying it to the canvas with varying degrees of pressure he exposes the integral parts of the whole – warm and cold – that give the compositions depth, light and realism. In the buttery spreading of paint across the canvas the use of these numerous colours in realising a more monochromatic conclusion is revealed.
These landscapes are Kinnane’s meditations about the land. The landscapes are not stated, they are suggested, leaving each observer to speculate on their own truth in the image – a stormy sea, a snow-covered landscape, the patterns of geology – and what else? We are left with a sense of isolation – they are depictions of the sense of place, rather than of the place itself. Human presence is not evident, except for the suggestion in the cleared fields that man had made his presence felt, actually enhancing the sense of emptiness and loneliness. However, while the skies are hardly the glorious and sunny kind, there is light in them and they aren’t as threatening as the landscape itself – perhaps beyond the horizon there is also a lightness and a different energy.
Kinnane’s adventurous use of colour, combined with his energetic, gestural use of the brush and knife, contradict the obvious consideration he applies to every mark. These paintings in Sunset Studies are skilful and absorbing. They warrant and stand up to close scrutiny and have us believing in the significance of this artist’s future.