Theatre of discontent

Ian Cumberland GET THE LOOK 2017/18 detail, oil on linen, neon 120x130cm

 

Brian McAvera wonders whether soulless consumerism is the message in Ian Cumberland’s dramatically installed artworks recently shown at Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast

Ian Cumberland is a Northerner: direct, efficient, practical, blackly humorous. Born in Banbridge in 1983, he studied at the University of Ulster (2002-6) but unusually for an Irish graduate, within two years he had had a solo show at a major London gallery, the Albemarle (2008), followed by another one in 2012. In-between times he attracted a slew of awards including the KPMG Emerging Artist award, the first prize at the Davy Portrait award, third prize in the BP National Portrait award, and the Ireland-US Council and Irish Arts Review Portraiture Award. Not surprisingly, he was steadily commissioned to do portraits, and, equally unsurprisingly, ‘portraits’ in the shape of human beings clothed or unclothed, full-length or as ‘heads’ dominated his work at the Albemarle and at his 2016 Millennium Court exhibition.

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