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Portfolio 'A Shorter History' by Micheal Farrell

Portfolio 'A Shorter History' by Micheal Farrell

From 1969 Farrell's art was affected by political events in Ireland and he changed from an abstract style to work with a figurative and literary element. As the title A Shorter History suggests, Farrell is aware of the problems inherent in the recording of history by writers, historians, journalists and artists and he stresses the subjectivity of his own version by inventing bizarre scenes and surreal compositions. Storm in a Teacup and Se noyer dans un verre d'eau (to drown oneself in a glass of water) represent the feelings of hopelessness and incompetence engendered by the political situation in Northern Ireland. Pressé Politique is made up of press cuttings relating to Bloody Friday in 1972 when nine people were killed and many more injured in Belfast. The centre of the work is black and there seems to be blood dripping off the edges of the newspaper. Farrell is playing on the French word pressé which means 'hurry', at the same time as referring to the English connotations. In the early 1980s a number of IRA prisoners went on hunger strike after petitioning to be prisoners of war rather than criminals. The work Anvers sur Oise seem to be a response to these events, the print is accompanied by the quotation from Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol: 'This little tent of blue that sometimes prisoners call the sky'. The depiction of the artist's studio as a metaphorical prison may be an expression of sympathy with those who died after their hunger strikes. Miss O' Murphy subverts a 'classical pose' in art giving the work a satirical twist with its statement 'This is the first real political poster about Ireland'. In Café Triste, a man is depicted smoking alone and naked at a table. The figure is inanimate, unfeeling and expressionless and this contributes to an overall feeling of emptiness and despair. Farrell employs broad ranging sources and ideas and in this group of works. He confronts many important issues - history, memory, war, nationality, internationalism, terrorism, the role of art and the predicament of the individual in society.