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PAINTINGS 2003 - 2010

Enrique Juncosa
Director, Irish museum of Modern Art
Anne Madden. A Retrospective, IMMA, 27 June 2007 - 30 September



For the last couple of years, Anne Madden has been making paintings about the Northern Lights, which seems to be an appropriately northern subject, now that she has returned to Ireland after spending many years in the South of France. These paintings are ambitious in scale, spectacular in their depiction of chromatic contrasts and highly accomplished in their technique, but they are also Romantic in their conception and resonant with symbolic potential. During one of my several visits to her studio to see how they were developing, Madden described them as paintings about different layers of light, implying that they were merely an analysis of physical phenomena; they are much more than this, however. Madden paints deep and ambiguous spaces – a constant feature in her work, as we shall later see – which invite us nonetheless to explore metaphysical ideas when looking at them.


Aurora B, 2004, oil on canvas, polyptych, 195 x 570 cm

Certainly, this group of paintings remind me of ‘The Auroras of Autumn’ (1947), possibly one of the most accomplished poems by Wallace Stevens. He wrote this long Romantic poem about crisis and death in his late 60s. The sky, for both Madden and Stevens, becomes a sort of terrible mirror in which a descending night is ripe with unsettling revelations. And consequently by noting this, both eloquently explore the realm of the sublime...

Winged Figure
Aurora Borealis - Snake of Light, 2006
Aurora Borealis 2, 2006
Aurora Borealis 5 - Flares 2008-09

Aurora Borealis - Chèvres Dansantes, 2006

Aurora Borealis - Arcs, 2006
Aurora Borealis - Arabesques, 2007