Madness and the Cure for Madness

‘The urge to become fire’, Oil on Canvas, 122×183 cm, Cian McLoughlin.

Madness and the cure for madness‘ is an exhibition of work by Cian McLoughlin. Cian is a Dublin based painter who predominately produces works of portraiture and urban landscapes. With a background in architecture and film studies, he has become a full-time, prize-winning painter with works exhibited throughout Ireland, as well as in the UK and the US.

Cian presents twelve artworks in his latest and forth solo exhibition at the Molesworth Gallery, Dublin. Moving away from his abstract style of portraiture, seen in his previous solo shows at the gallery, ‘Tronies’ (2017), ‘Drawings’ (2014) and ‘Camden Town and the Aisling Project’ (2008), Cian has ventured into the world of crowd studies.

‘Threshold of one’, Oil on Canvas, 122×122 cm, Cian McLoughlin.

Cian has been interested in crowd studies for the past few years, and first exhibited works from this new series of crowd paintings back in late 2019 at the British Art Fair in Saathci Gallery, London. With the onset of the global pandemic in early 2020, Cian was able further develop his artistic practice, drawing from Classical theories on crowd behaviour as well as the work of contemporary social scientists.

"This study of crowds has both fascinated and confounded me with the complexity of its moving parts..."   Cian McLoughlin, Art in Lockdown, 2020.

In an exhibition in the National Gallery of Ireland in the summer of 2020, Cian presented a further two crowd paintings, which were viewed in context to the pandemic, and the social restrictions that came with it. In a time where people were not able to meet in groups, an entirely new perspective was added to the works.

‘Blue assemble’, Oil on Mylar Mounted on Board, 122×91.5 cm, Cian McLoughlin.

Cian explores crowd behaviour in his work, capturing the peak moment of escalation in a crowd. He is not interested in why the crowd as formed nor what the aftermath of the gathering would be, instead he focuses on the behaviour and life-force of the crowd itself. In doing so, Cian captures the underlining duality of crowd behaviour – a setting of inclusion where one can find a sense of belonging, but also a setting of anonymity where one can lose themselves.

‘Midnight mass’, Oil on Canvas, 122×183 cm, Cian McLoughlin.

The works are composed of series of complex patterns, forms and textures, all of which are also synonymous with the crowds he paints. It is precisely these aspects of the crowd that Cian emulates in his work – the tactile nature of a swarm of overlapping and compressing shapes and forms. A multitude of colour and patterns, in seemingly random compositions, are brought together into one unified form.

‘Madness and the cure for madness’ is running from 29th May – 30th June 2021 at Molesworth Gallery. To see more of Cian’s work visit his website and Instagram.