Conor Linnie: Andrew Neville

In Up on the Hill, his series of paintings in oil on canvas and MDF for this year’s IADT Graduate Exhibition, Andrew Neville interprets the shaping influence of digital technologies on our lived and remembered experience. Utilising online source material of his native Dublin and taking compositional inspiration from the deconstructed digital image, Neville presents a series of ghostly, fragmented scenes from the fringes of urban life.

Three works hung together on one wall are unified by their vast black backgrounds, against which the vivid fluorescent blueprints of city scenes take form as if in the very process of digital generation. In Berth Assemblage, a towering stack of pallets and tyres is realised in disorientating degrees of detail and colour, so that only gradually do you notice the gang of gesturing youths vying for your attention, their luminous outlines straining to establish visibility against the blackness and the chaotic debris.

Conventional representational modes are subverted and the autonomy of the viewer questioned. Neville plays with the definition of the image as brilliant phosphorescent blues and greens break up into grainy low-resolution lines. In Vicinity, the segmented colour planes of the sky and the grounds of a desolate parkland suggest a pixelated effect that adds to the lurid unreal quality of the scene. The pigment is variously applied in thick swathes or fine strokes to juxtapose the blurred and sharply realised image.

This destabilising vision is central to Neville’s practice and opens up the exciting possibilities of his methodological merging of traditional fine art and contemporary digital representation. He writes: “Throughout the works, spaces are depicted which appear as disorientating and in constant flux. Environments contain varying traces of real-world places, as scenes seem to procedurally materialise.” The setting of this fragmented aesthetic in gritty marginal urban zones gives it a polemic energy, where a disaffected youth culture stakes its territory in derelict sites and empty lots.

Written by Conor Linnie

Conor Linnie completed his PhD on the Irish literary and visual arts magazine Envoy (1949-1951) at Trinity College Dublin in 2017.