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Red Birds by Jo Donegan


Jo Donegan is the youngest artist represented in the CNAA Collection. The work was purchased from her degree exhibition and occupied a prominent position in the CNAA offices, refurbished that year to mark CNAA's 25th anniversary.
Red Birds operates in terms of certain conventions (materials, size, format) of painting, and in that sense differs radically from Beutlich's wall-hanging Bird of Prey, which moves from the arena of craft towards the autonomous status and expressive or spiritual power of fine art, at least as this concept came to be differentiated increasingly from craft and design in the West. Registering the way in which industrialisation separated use-value from craft, Beutlich aimed to revitalise weaving by means of the richness and imagistic power of painting (although it may well be that his market and critical success had more to do with fine art perceptions of his move as a personal creation of an expressive medium out of non-art techniques). By contrast, Red Birds aims to annexe something of the decorative and imagistic richness of Indian and Islamic design, in a context of previous abstraction stripped down to phenomenological 'basics'. Jo Donegan's inks on different qualities of paper are used to conjure different suggestions of materials from cloth to parchment, and expand from single motifs with the addition of border panels.
In the USA, a group of 'Decoration/Patterning' painters (Davis, Kushner, MacConnell, Zakanitsch) emerged in the late 1970's in association with the Holly Solomon Gallery. Certain artists in this country registered similar concerns; for example, Adrian Berg's park paintings took on the appearance of hanging carpets. Design seemed to offer a hedonistic release from the austerity of 1970's avant-garde culture (and from a climate of recession), while raising issues about cultural status of work. Perhaps in the American case, the quotation of other cultures had more to do with consumer exoticism of taste. 'Decorative painting' certainly involved some 'return of the repressed', visual plenitude and indulgence in pattern and dream.
Artist:Jo Donegan
Artwork type:mixed media
Material:inks on paper
Measurements:780 x 945 mm
Technique:coll‚ge
Date:1990
Location:Arts & Humanities Research Council, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2AE. View by appointment; please contact the AHRC's Facilities Manager on 01179 876 500
Rights owner:Artist's Estate
Rights status:The CNAA has made every effort to trace the copyright owner of this work, but without success. Any persons or organizations having a valid claim to ownership of the relevant copyright should contact the CNAA immediately, with a view to any omissions being corrected as soon as possible.
Institution:Council for National Academic Awards

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