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Work of the Week | 25 January 2021

CAG.2156 Cecily Brennan, Woman with Koebnersing Psoriasis, 2003, egg tempera on gesso, 25.5 x 30.75 cm. Purchased, 2004. © the artist.

Small in scale, Woman with Koebnersing Psoriasis (2003) by Cecily Brennan is a deceptively simple, yet intimate work. The artist employs egg tempera to describe a truncated torso form as dozens of dark irregular blotches, identified by the title, appear across its pink flesh.

Koebnersing psoriasis is a condition that occurs at sites of cutaneous (or skin) injury, with new skin lesions appearing on otherwise healthy skin. This painting forms part of a body of work that Brennan made in 2002-03 and exhibited as part of Heat (2005).

Exploring how the human body registers stress, these works are characterised by close-up images of eczema, psoriasis, and self-harm. In presenting such conditions in this way, the artist forces us to confront something from which we might otherwise shy away. Informed by pain and painted with care, they prompt feelings of empathy.

A native of Athenry, Cecily Brennan (b.1955) has exhibited her work widely, both nationally and internationally. ‘Damage and fortitude are her abiding concerns,’ offers Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, ‘and the perennial search for those strategies of survival that allow ordinary human beings to endure and overcome the various afflictions by which they are beset.’

In addition to her career as an artist, Brennan has been Director of Project Arts Centre (1983-86), Chair of the Visual Arts Committee (1993-97), and co-founder of the Artists' Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment (2015-18). She lives and works in Dublin.

Woman with Koebnersing Psoriasis (2003) by Cecily Brennan is featured in lucid abnormalities, which runs in our Gibson Galleries (Floor 1) until March.

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:


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