Orla Whelan is a visual artist based in Dublin whose practice is rooted in painting. Her approach is to consider the visual language and materials of the medium as tools to reimagine contemporary possibilities for transcendence. She is motivated by an existential anxiety and a belief that abstraction is a viable means to address metaphysical uncertainties. In addition to oil paint on linen, Whelan uses non-traditional painting materials which refer to the materiality and tropes of painting. These expanded forms include: wood veneers on panel, painted plywood wedges, modified furniture, and site responsive interventions that speak to the history and architecture of particular spaces. She frequently explores the role of writing within visual art practice by creating different author identities and experimental texts that challenge ideas of subjectivity, authorship and meaning.
Recent solo projects include: Magnum Chaos, Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin (March – April 2023) I Don’t Need Anything From Here (magic-carpet-painting), RHA Gallery (November 2022 – January 2023); Matter Mammal Oil Soar – an experimental book exploring the relationship between art writing, authorship and painting which was launched at the Dublin Art Book Fair 2021 at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios; A More Immortal Atlas, Rathfarnham Castle OPW, Dublin, 2020; A Falling of the Bright – a site specific commission for Facebook AIR Programme, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin, 2019, and Chaos Bewitched, which won the inaugural Merrion Plinth Award, Merrion Hotel, Dublin, 2019.
Recent group exhibitions include Festival – Gallery and Invited Artists, Hillsboro Fine Art, 2022 and Dubliners – The 6th Biennial of Painting, Zagreb, Croatia, 2021 in association with Pallas Projects. Whelan’s practice is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland with a Visual Art Bursary in 2022 and 2021. Her work is held in the collections of The Arts Council of Ireland, The OPW State Art Collection, Trinity College Dublin, The Merrion Hotel and private collections worldwide. She is founder and director of AtHomeStudios – a collective of visual artists working from studios based in their own homes, and the art publishing project Whale Dust.