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If I have any kind of superpower, it’s being able to spot a printmaker at twenty paces, regardless as to whether there are any traditional prints on show or not. There’s a very specific way that printmakers make art that is obvious even if they are drawing, painting or illustrating using other means. ‘Welcome’, Conor Nolan’s first solo exhibition at Lucky’s on Meath St in Dublin, is one of these times.
If I had to describe Nolan’s work to someone without any images at hand, I’d say it had the whimsy and heart of Quentin Blake, with the graphic and colour sensibilities of Saul Bass and Corita Kent, somehow managing that magic trick of being calming and vibrant at the same time. The artworks walk a tightrope between the past and the present, telling the small stories of life in Dublin through Nolan’s eyes.
The exhibition includes paintings on skateboards, digital prints and screenprints. There’s a thing that printmakers do, whether we’re conscious of it or not, where we try our hardest to turn other art mediums into printmaking, and we do this by breaking even the most simple processes down into more component parts than anyone else thinks is possible. Nolan clearly does this in his work, separating sketches and ideas out to work on and manipulate separately, before bringing everything back together in layers. It’s a process that brings an element of surprise for both the artist and the viewer, giving the final images a visual and intellectual depth.
My favourite piece from the ‘Welcome’ exhibition is ‘Grey Days’, a digital illustration of various characters going about their daily business. The image combines the handmade nature of cutouts, collage and drawing with the added visual texture of photographic film scans, which, from a distance, look like traditional lithographic washes. It’s the kind of artwork that draws you in closer to figure out what’s going on. This is the perfect exhibition to sit down with on a summer day with a cup of tea, so head on down to Lucky’s before August 22 and see it for yourself.