(From left to right:) Fionna Barber, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Brian Maguire, Penny Macbeth and Kate Cook
On 18 March 2015, the Gender Knowledge Cluster was proud to co-host an event with Manchester School of Art, welcoming the important Irish artist Brian Maguire to MMU.
Born in 1951, Brian is a fiercely expressive painter whose work emerges essentially from social and political situations. He approaches painting as a gesture of solidarity, operating a truly engaged practice compelled by the raw realities of humanity’s violence against itself, and the potential for justice. Between 2000–2010, Brian Maguire held the position of Head of Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and has been represented by the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin since 1988.
Since 2010, Brian’s work has focused on the Mexican city of Juarez, addressesing the phenomenon of feminicide, which is the killing of women ostensibly due to their gender. 438 young women were murdered there in 2010 and only 2 per cent of the cases have been properly investigated. Their mothers have been ignored by the police, government, judiciary and the media. The mothers chose to work with Brian to communicate their stories to the outside world in the hope that an international reaction may bring some justice to their loss. Here, Brian worked with the families affected, becoming embedded with crime reporters of the city’s newspaper El Norte.
My purpose is to show respect to the victims of violence. To remove all the easy rationalisations which excuse, cover over, and protect us from this reality. As the man is dead, the painting keeps his death in the present. The absence of justice demands this act.
Brian’s presentation explained this work and included a slide show of some of the powerful images from Mexico. The talk was followed by a panel session with questions addressed by Brian and a group of academics from MMU.
In connection with this work, Maguire recently collaborated on a documentary feature film Blood Rising, which was screened at the Curzon Cinema, London in 2014, and premiered at the closing gala of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival the previous year. This is the first step in an international human rights campaign to bring attention to the hundreds of uninvestigated murders of young woman in Ciudad Juarez.
Blood Rising was screened at MMU on 19 March 2015. The same day, Brian ran a masterclass discussion session, enabling staff and students from art and law to come together to talk about the impact of this work and to look for future ways to collaborate, working on the human rights of the disappeared.
Feedback from the sessions was immensely positive and we hope to get the chance to work with Brian again in the future. For more details about the coresponding events, please visit the dedicated event pages:
An exhibition of Brian’s work will feature at the Fergus McCaffrey gallery in New York from 5 March until 25 April 2015. For full details, download the press release. You can stay connected with the gallery via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtags #FMBrianMaguire and #FMNewYork.