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People look at sculptures by Irish sculptor John O’Connor after the opening of his exhibition ‘Equilibrium’ at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar yesterday. (Shaival Dalal)
BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: With massive development the country is undergoing manifested in large-scale construction projects, contemporary art scene in Qatar is also set to be exciting in the near future, said Irish sculptor John O’ Connor.
“Art here is more traditional than contemporary, but just looking at the huge constructions going on I have no doubt the coming years would be an exciting time in Qatar in order to bring in new artworks particularly public art,” O’ Connor told The Peninsula at the successful opening of his first-ever exhibition yesterday.
Titled ‘Equilibrium-New Works by John O’ Connor’, the expo runs until September 29 at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU-Q) Gallery and features 27 of the latest wall and table sculptures by the renowned Irish artist whose speciality is public art.
Since 1999, O’Connor has been actively creating unique sculptural works for public spaces in Ireland completing over 30 public art commissions and featuring in over 38 expos not only in Ireland but other parts of the world including New York and Belgium.
His coming to Qatar for his very first solo exhibition, he said, was unexpected and both interesting and challenging.
“I never thought I would be doing an exhibition here because this is very far from Ireland. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase my work in another county so different from European or American art spaces and with different type of culture, and that’s what I found interesting and challenging coming over here,” he said.
For this particular expo, the artist brings to light another facet of his work which is more on big public sculptures.
“This expo is another dimension to my work which is mostly public sculptures for outer spaces in Ireland. It’s more traditional for me to work in this line,” he said, adding he is very much honoured to feature in an exhibition here.
It took him two months to create most in the range the artworks which he made especially for the expo.
“The theme is about balance, how we balance different elements in our lives such as work and pleasure work…it could be any aspect of life where we attempt to create balance,” he explained of the theme.
Prevalent in all 27 artworks on display are the circular motif and the mixed use of materials.
“The circular motif is something that I use in most of works in kind of kinetic mythology; it represents sort of protection, care and also represents life and life-giving forces. I’m very much interested in using various materials and how they work together. I use steel because of its hard quality and then I contrast it with softer materials like wood or glass,” he said.
“VCUQ’s gallery is happy to host John O’Connor, who has particular experience in art education and the field of public art. Our students are looking forward to his gallery talks and the studio workshops he will do with them,” said Caitlin Doherty, exhibitions and speaker curator at VCUQ.
All the sculptures on display are for sale with prices ranging from QR1,500 to QR6,000.