Louise Wallace: Midnight Feast

7 Apr-26 Nov 2023

The MAC Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland BT1 2NJ


Louise Wallace produces work that is deliberately provocative, utilising a palette of lush colour to create images that draw on abstraction and Surrealism to transform the suburban into scenes that hover between the familiar and the uncanny.

Midnight Feast is a new body of work which looks at desire, excess and the feminine. Wallace explores a landscape made of body parts, fruit and animated shrubs, populated by monstrous bird feeders, bizarre garden ornaments and spectral visions. The paintings are a series of nocturnes, loosely based on the gardens of Lenadoon and Glengoland housing estates in West Belfast.

Wallace has distorted these night scenes in a playful, provocative manner to subvert traditional Irish landscape painting and the problematic conflation of the feminine and the land. Midnight Feast depicts a contemporary Northern Imaginary – a reading of place and identity that encompasses laughter, fluidity and non-sense. The exhibition’s title suggests excessive or forbidden behaviour – in the world of adults, a midnight feast could be Bacchanalian.

The exhibition positions painting as a field of enquiry rather than a medium-specific condition. A febrile sense of colour is instrumental to holding relationships across media and into the gallery space. Wallace’s painting practice is reimagined across drawing, collage and three-dimensional objects.

The wall piece, Fabulous Birds is an exploration of colour and form using found and fabricated objects, the whole operating as a three-dimensional collage. The bird-like forms also relate to the gardens and bird feeders in the paintings. The works on paper plot a trippy landscape, full of reclining odalisques and dancing trees.

Wallace’s practice is improvisational; one move generates the next whether the medium is painting, drawing or assemblages. The exhibition installation is an extension of Wallace’s studio where she displays a range of objects and manipulates them to extend the compositional space of painting.

About the Artist

Louise Wallace (b. 1970, Belfast) is a painter, writer and educator. She was shortlisted for the BEEP Painting Prize (2022) and longlisted for the John Moore’s Painting Prize (2020). She is the recipient of several bursaries and Arts Council awards, most recently receiving SIAP funding (2022). She has exhibited her paintings nationally and internationally including the SoHo20 gallery (New York), Siemens Art Space (Beijing), RUA Red (Dublin) and the Fenderesky gallery (Belfast). Her work is in several private and public collections including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Ulster University and the Boyle Civic Collection, Sligo. Wallace co-curated and exhibited in ‘Penumbra’, a survey of contemporary Irish female painting at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery (2020). Her essay ‘Who Killed Marthe Bonnard? Madness, Morbidity and Pierre Bonnard’s “The Bath”’ was published in the Journal of Contemporary Painting (2018) and she was an invited speaker on the work of painter Mary Swanzy at IMMA, Dublin (2018). She is co-curator of the retrospective ‘Catherine McWilliams 1961 – 2021’ at the F.E. McWilliam gallery (2023) and the author of ‘Hope is Something Rooted – the work of Catherine McWilliams’ in the Irish Arts Review, Spring 2023. Paintings from her latest Midnight Feast series are included in the British Council journal ‘Difficult Conversations’ (2023). Wallace completed her PhD in 2005 at Belfast School of Art where she currently works as a lecturer in painting.