Oradour, Elegy for a Town is an exhibition of new paintings by Dundalk artist Paul Woods. Paul is a graduate of the Limerick School of Art and Design and he’s currently studying M.A in Military History and Strategic Studies in NUI Maynooth.
His artwork up to date is a visual compendium and evaluation of the tragedy of life lost in warfare, in times when global conflict and economic strife are paramount issues. Paul paints about personal, collective and universal histories.
Through his artwork he intends to stimulate a dialogue on the role of art in the process of familiarizing and contextualizing history and its cyclical nature.
Paul has exhibited widely in Ireland and Europe and researched extensively on the subject matter of war and conflict, from battlefields in Europe, Asia and North America, Auschwitz in Poland to the Kwai River in Thailand.
Oradour-Sur-Glane was a small town in France. The tragedy of the destruction Oradour during WWII in France and its 642 inhabitants is still to this day surrounded in controversy as to why this event occurred and in this particular place.
As an artist Paul reflects on the haphazard and illogical process that often in warfare results in the clinical and barbaric destruction of innocent people in their environs. The town of Oradour had lived as a peaceful community for a thousand years, yet within a matter of hours when the soldiers came, the town and the existence of its inhabitants was erased forever.
Very recently Oradour has been in the centre of European attention as an 88-year-old former SS guard has been charged with taking part in one of the most shocking massacres carried out in Nazi-occupied France. As an artist concerned with the subject matter of war and conflict and its impact on all aspects of human existence, Paul is keen on participating in international dialogue about the consequences of war and historical justice.
Paul has always been fascinated by the depictions of masses and crowds, mass graves, and amassed objects and debris, and there is an emphasis of this interest sustained in all his studio work. The imagery of warfare and conflict throughout history is filled with such powerful, and very often abstract and unsettling depictions.
The frightening scale and enormity of the civilian casualty figures in World War II has a special poignancy, as they exceed the military casualties. There are always civilian casualties in every war fought in the past and nowadays, innocent women and children, farmers, factory workers, shopkeepers, teachers, artists, whose lost lives become only numbers and statistics, and whose faces are obliterated in the process of history-making. Through his artwork Paul attempts to depict the scale and relevance of this process and to engage the audiences in a reflective and critical discourse on the tragedy of civilian loss in warfare.
ORADOUR, ELEGY FOR A TOWN
Exhibition of Paintings in An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk
11th January - 20 February 2016.