The Return
Kevin Atherton

Butler Gallery, in partnership with Kilkenny Arts Festival, presented Kevin Atherton: The Return which consisted of three video installations, along with additional object-based work, all of which involve a revisiting or return to an older pre-existing work. In recent years, Atherton has become known for this aspect of his practice where he ‘re-enters’ his previous works and through his interventions re-animates and adds to or alters their previous meaning. In this exhibition the time gap between the 'first work' and the 'second work' vary from forty-three years as in the video/film projection ‘Boxing Re-Match’ (1972-2015), to a few minutes, as in the 3D print ‘Signature Piece’ (2018).

In addition to the work installed in the main ground floor gallery, in the Digital Gallery on the second floor, Atherton screened a continuous sixty-minute programme of short film/video works that examine aspects of authorship and audience that span a fifty-year period. These works tackle issues such as identity and use humour to question the notion of the artists documentary whilst simultaneously challenging television codes and practices.

About the Artist

Kevin Atherton is an artist who works with performance and new media in sculptural contexts. A fine art educator, his is a time-based practice with an ongoing interest in the relationship between the real and the fictional.

“The audience has been central to the becoming of his artworks, from the Brixton Station platform sculptures, to his direct address of the invisible demarcation of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture in Coronation Street. Atherton has used the art gallery as ‘theatre’ to question art and the artist ‘performer’ relative to the wider cultural influences of mass entertainment, including the performer in vaudeville or stand-up comedy.”
– Jackie Hatfield, Rewind-Artists Videos in the 70s and 80s, 2005

Since the 1980s Atherton has created many large-scale public sculptural commissions. Well known as an art educator, he taught at National College of Art and Design (NCAD) from 2000 to 2014 where he was Head of Postgraduate Pathways in the Faculty of Fine Art and as such has influenced a whole generation of young artists. As a previous resident of Inistioge he is very happy to be returning to Kilkenny.

Kevin Atherton in conversation with Sonia Shiel
August 7, 2022


The Irish Times: ‘Past and present intertwine and become very complicated’
Aidan Dunne, Sun Jul 31 2022

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