Exhibition Review: Eamon O’Kane @ Butler Gallery, The Thin Air

Aidan Kelly Murphy, The Thin Air, June 7, 2017

The work of Danish fairytale behemoth Hans Christian Anderson, and specifically his 1858 short story The Last Dream of an Old Oak Tree, provides the title for the latest exhibition by Irish artist Eamon O’Kane in Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery. The show, titled Does all the beauty of the world cease when you die?, features a broad range of mediums including on-site installations, print and photography, that have been combined to provide a multi-faceted and immersive exhibition.

Anderson’s short story discuss the interaction between an old oak tree and a May fly. The tree feels pity for the fly as he views his ephemeral life as being deprived of the wonder of the world. To the fly his life is filled with thousands of moment in which to enjoy the beauty of the world, and ponders the aforementioned question to the oak tree as to whether the world’s beauty will end when he does. As well as the shows title, this analogy provides an overarching theme for the works on display as O’Kane discuss environmental as well as the sociological impacts of mankind and modern society. Presented are pieces analysing psychoanalytic tools, such as the Baum Test, as well works documenting the progression of dereliction in a plant nursery near the artists home in Denmark. Perhaps the most impressive of pieces on show is the artist’s installation piece In All Things, its part wooden metropolis, part carbon molecular structure. Our relationships with this, the forth most populous element in the universe, is often fraught with its combinations with other elements at the fore in the fight against global warming, despite it also representing 18.5% of our mass make-up.

Does all the beauty of the world cease when you die? continues in Butler Gallery until June 11th, full details available here.