press release

Preview: Thursday 19th April 6-8 p.m.

John Cronin is exhibiting ten new paintings, including one large triptych measuring six by twelve feet. Entitled The Devil’s Interval, the exhibition refers to the discordant tri-tone notes in music composition which, in the Middle Ages, were banned by the Church. The tritone is a restless interval, classed as a dissonance in Western music from the early Middle Ages through the end of the common practice period. The name ("the Devil in music") has been applied to the interval from at least the early eighteenth century. Inducing aural vertigo, the tritone was initially considered disruptive or used as a tool in musical compositions to produce highly emotional responses. The composer Wagner was known to include them in his work. However, by the 20th Century these tri-tone notes have come to be used as a neutral interval in the composition.

For Cronin, the history of this musical construction, is reflected in this body of work. His oil on aluminium works are at once highly charged, and compositionally lyrical. Cronin’s trademark swathes of paint are applied in pools and strokes which are interrupted, pulled and dragged and re-applied. Veils of luminous paint vertically cross horizontal ribbons of colour. Pools of liquid-looking colour meet dry rasping planes of texture. Cronin refers to this disjuncture in his work when he describes the process of making work, and particularly of editing the processes by which he works. In reference to the Church’s ban on the tritone notes in music composition, Cronin has said that he often finds himself unconsciously censoring his working practice, of applying rules for his artistic expression. He then has to reverse these self-imposed restrictions by embracing possibilities, and exploring previously unconsidered paths. The total effect of Cronin’s work is at once a satisfyingly robust visual performance and a dissonant flash of something unfamiliar.

Donald Kuspit who wrote the essay for Cronin’s 2005 publication has said of his work: Cronin offers us a new abstract “musical painting,” as both Greenberg and Kandinsky called it – one in which seemingly staccato brush strokes converge in a new harmony. Like them Cronin is a romantic, but his romanticism is less troubled and violent….We might say that where Kandinsky and Pollock orchestrate on a grand scale, Cronin’s paintings are chamber music. Their romanticism is concentrated and insinuating rather than cosmic and outspoken, which makes for a deeper emotional as well as sensuous experience…

John Cronin
The Devil's Interval