MOCRA presents retrospective of celebrated Irish painter

Aerial+view+from+the+inside+of+Saint+Louis+University%E2%80%99s+Museum+of+Contemporary+Religious+Art%2C+featuring+the+Patrick+Graham+Exhibit.+The+exhibit+will+last+until+December+16.+%28Adnan+Syed+%2F+Religion+Editor%29
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MOCRA presents retrospective of celebrated Irish painter

Aerial view from the inside of Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, featuring the Patrick Graham Exhibit. The exhibit will last until December 16. (Adnan Syed / Religion Editor)

Aerial view from the inside of Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, featuring the Patrick Graham Exhibit. The exhibit will last until December 16. (Adnan Syed / Religion Editor)

Aerial view from the inside of Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, featuring the Patrick Graham Exhibit. The exhibit will last until December 16. (Adnan Syed / Religion Editor)

Aerial view from the inside of Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, featuring the Patrick Graham Exhibit. The exhibit will last until December 16. (Adnan Syed / Religion Editor)

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Aerial view from the inside of Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, featuring the Patrick Graham Exhibit. The exhibit will last until December 16. (Adnan Syed / Religion Editor)

On Sunday, Sept. 23, Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) opened its exhibit, “Patrick Graham: Thirty Years – The Silence Becomes the Painting.”

Patrick Graham is frequently noted as Ireland’s most important contemporary artist. His retrospective of work, including paintings, collages and drawings, offers a unique glimpse into the 30-year window that marks Graham’s psychologically charged explorations.

A well-attended, free public opening reception was held from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday. While the exhibit itself tackles controversial, difficult material, the response was generally positive.

“This is one of the more challenging exhibits I’ve attended,” John Lamb, SLU Box Office Manager, said. “Your understanding of the pieces is dependent on knowing Irish history, so it’s challenging just trying to relate to the painting.”

Graham was born in Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland in 1943, and he went on to study at the National College of Art in Dublin. His art been exhibited in Ireland and internationally since 1966. Graham’s work is represented in major public and private collections throughout the world.

Critics and historians have credited Graham with changing the face of painting in Ireland.  Already, critics are praising this newest exhibit at MOCRA.

“[Graham] confronts the viewer with drawings and paintings of shattering force,” exhibition curator and renowned historian, Peter Selz, said. “[He] makes us aware that great painting has a presence and a future.”

Art historian John Handley also noted that Graham’s work “addresses the timelessness of time, the repetition of history and the continuous cyclical nature of silence, abandonment and redemption in the creative process.”

The artist’s own words reveal what the creative process means to him. Graham said, “The silence becomes the painting, the painting comes from silence. It is the moment when painting is no longer an act of doing or making but of receiving.”

The exhibition reveals great insight into the Graham’s personal life.

“He’s really letting you into his soul,” David Brinker, Assistant Director of MOCRA, said. “Graham grew up in a time of transformation where some Irish towns weren’t getting electricity until 1950’s. He’s battled alcoholism, and he’s lived through a personal journey that he really brings to life.”

Brinker goes on to explain that the exhibit is a “transformative experience.”

The exhibit will be featured until Dec. 16. Regular museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.

MOCRA is the world’s first interfaith museum of contemporary religious and spiritual art. Officially opened in 1993, MOCRA is dedicated to the ongoing dialogue between contemporary artists and the world’s faith traditions.

For more information, visit mocra.slu.edu.

A typical piece of art work by Patrick Graham, depicting two embracing figures at a window. Courtesy of Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.