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Evening Newspapers Rita Donagh


Rita Donagh Wednesbury, 1939 –

Date 1974
Object type collage
Medium, technique oil, pencil, newsprint and letraset on canvas

61.5 x 76.5 cm

Inventory number MO.91.109
Collection Department of Art after 1800
On view This artwork is not on display

Rita Donagh’s pictures are outcomes of systematic experiments with a combination of figurativeness and abstraction. Her canvases evolve slowly through several sketches, preparatory drawings, collage studies into a finite and mature form. Her seemingly cool and measured painting style conceals layers of meanings and associations that are difficult to unfold, but whose unravelling unleashes highly intense emotional charges.
The picture of mixed technique in the collection is a major and independent item in a great series she made in the memory of the civil rights struggles in Northern Ireland culminating in 1972. The painting in the centre of the series, also titled Evening Newspapers (size: 140×200 cm) took her two years to make. Only hidden associations referred to the dramatic conflict for a long time. A photo she found in the May 19, 1974 issue of Sunday Times jolted her off the nadir: it showed the victim of a bombing laid out on a Dublin pavement and covered with newspapers. “When the Talbot Street photograph appeared in the Sunday Times newspaper it became clear that it provided a means to tie the fragmented work together”, she recalls. This instance moved her so profoundly that she tried to capture the dead body with its outlines showing through the covering papers in a row of sketches and drawings, as the concrete, visually interpretable motif of violence. This element, eventually included in the painting begun in 1972 as a partial motif to bind the whole work structurally and associatively, has a central role in this variant of 1974 (in the collection): it creates the visual balance between the spiritual construction and the emotional expression.

Ferenc Tóth

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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