Isabel Nolan has an expansive practice that incorporates sculptures, paintings, textile works, photographs, writing and works on paper. Her subject matter is similarly comprehensive, taking in cosmological phenomena, religious reliquaries, Greco-Roman sculptures and literary/historical figures, examining the behaviour of humans and animals alike. These diverse artistic investigations are driven by intensive research, but the end result is always deeply personal and subjective. Exploring the “intimacy of materiality”, Nolan’s work ranges from the architectural – steel sculptures that frame or obstruct our path – to small handmade objects in clay, hand-tufted wool rugs illuminated with striking cosmic imagery, to drawings and paintings using humble gouache or colouring pencils. In concert, they feel equally enchanted by and afraid of the world around us, expressing humanity’s fear of mortality and deep need for connection as well as its startling achievements in art and thought. Driven by “the calamity, the weirdness, horror, brevity and wonder of existing alongside billions of other preoccupied humans”, her works give generous form to fundamental questions about the ways the chaos of the world is made beautiful or given meaning through human activity.
In late 2020, Launchpad and Kerlin Gallery published ‘Curling up with reality’, bringing together a decade of Nolan’s work including significant exhibitions and 20 of the artist’s writings.
Isabel Nolan lives and works in Dublin.
Isabel Nolan has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Château La Coste, Aix-en-Provence; Void Gallery, Derry; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Mercer Union, Toronto; London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, London; Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Solstice Arts Centre, Navan; Kunstverein Graz, Austria; Kunstverein Langenhagen, Germany and Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne, France. Her work has also been exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Salzburger Kunstverein; Centre of Contemporary Art, Geneva; Artspace, Sydney; Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Daejeon Museum of Art, South Korea; Beijing Art Museum of the Imperial City, Beijing.
Nolan has participated in international group exhibitions and biennales including the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; Lofoten International Arts Festival (LIAF); Mediations Biennale, Poznan; Yugoslav Biennale of Young Artists, Vršac, Serbia; Glasgow International and EVA International Limerick.