Compositions in space

Angela Griffith reflects on the multifaceted practice of Alex Pentek, whose work ranges from the solidity of public art to the floating paper sculpture currently on view at the RHA

As we drive on our national roads, walk in our municipal streets and parks, enter our civic buildings we will inevitably encounter public art. The primary purpose of public art, in an open, democratic country such as Ireland, is to aesthetically enhance our shared spaces and to reflect or challenge commonly held societal values and interests. The best of these works become established and cherished landmarks as they reflect, and become part of, our shared heritage. They enrich our lives by allowing us, for what might only be a brief moment, to engage with something beyond our individual concerns. They remind us that we are part of something bigger. Public art can honour the individuals that we recognise as nation builders, commemorate events that defined who we were and who we are, and celebrates our wider cultural landscape. As public art reflects the mores of past and contemporary society, it also carries the burden of representing these same ideals to future generations and retaining its relevance.

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