Paul Mosse, Gallery 2, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, 18 April – 27 May 27





Paul Mosse: installation detail, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

At first glance, Gallery 2 in the Douglas Hyde bears an uneasy resemblance to a teenager’s cluttered bedroom. Colourful fragments, from abstract photographs to promotional flyers and newspaper clippings, are pinned to the plaster at random intervals on the three surrounding walls. Shelves of varying sizes support objects of curious appearance and questionable origin: tiny homemade weapons, a painted clay Oscar statuette, a piece of copper-piping sculpture with a plug dangling from it.






Paul Mosse: installation shot, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

In 1997 Paul Mosse’s solo exhibition at the Douglas Hyde Gallery very deliberately showed unfinished works - paintings at different stages of development and predominantly incomplete. Process is of key importance to Mosse. He tends to begin with a recognisable, representational object or theme, then labour it into total abstraction by any means possible: layering paint, hammering panel-pins, drilling holes, gluing found objects, and so on. In short, Mosse likes to throw just about everything but the kitchen sink at his paintings. For his current unique endeavour in Gallery 2, we are simply getting less of the paint, panel-pins and wood-chippings, and more of the kitchen sink, manifested in the form of his kid’s drawings, the pictures from the sitting-room wall, the flyers from the fridge.






Paul Mosse: installation detail, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

The key to the exhibition comes in the form of a modest orange booklet hanging by a string at the entrance. It is one of a series of such booklets that make up a publication entitled Leaves and papers. Six significant Irish artists were asked to contribute something that serves to encapsulate their practice or simply to illustrate their personal interests, in whatever format, within the confines of the project. Leaves and papers is the latest installment in a unique series of Douglas Hyde Gallery publications that successfully contextualise the Gallery’s ethos and programme in an obscure, but concrete, form.






Paul Mosse: installation shot, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

The booklet that Mosse has designed for the project conveys the distinct feeling of an eccentric mini-retrospective. Laid out like a notebook - scribbled thoughts and sketchy doodles, cut-and-pasted images, appropriated quotes, artefacts of inspiration and little snatches of reflection - it is moving in its honesty and decidedly confessional in tone. Mosse cautiously exposes fears of his own mortality, courageously photocopying his crushed prescription pill boxes. What is revealed as a result, from a touching relationship with his two sons to the many dense and intricate levels of this art work, is unashamedly truthful and convincingly sincere.






Paul Mosse: installation shot, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

While Mosse’s traditional finished pieces generally fall somewhere between the boundaries of painting and sculpture, the display in Gallery 2 has configured itself to resemble something between installation and archaeological excavation. What we are looking at are primary sources, labelled and displayed as artistic artefacts. But unlike historic implements of real cultural value, here we have a celebration of the objects and documents accumulated for no practical purpose other then a sentimental one. And although they can also be said to have the appearance of ready-mades, these differ in their symbolic nostalgia and sense of history, because they come loaded with a point of origin and a potential destination.






Paul Mosse: installation detail, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

In some strange and unexpected fashion, the booklet and exhibition designed to accompany it slot easily into the broader fashionable contexts of contemporary society. Apparently without realising it, a 62-year-old man has created for himself a three-dimensional My Space or Facebook page. This is Me! These are the quirky things I like! Meet the Family! Check out these pictures I made! I don’t for a second intend this as a criticism. On the contrary, I identify it as a major factor in the show’s far-reaching appeal. Instead of simply presenting us with a straightforward visual, Mosse has compiled a much larger and far richer picture of the humanity and endearing personality behind the images. In a cultural society consumed by the desire to communicate, it seems only natural that we seek relationships as opposed to experiences when it comes down to the viewing of art. In this heartfelt little jumble of a show, Mosse successfully provides the spectator with numerous sincere and welcoming entry points to the man and the art.






Paul Mosse: installation shot, 2008; photo Rory Moore; courtesy the Douglas Hyde Gallery

Sara Baume is an artist based in Dublin.