Signed D. Blodau William English Bequest.
Born and raised in post-war Germany, Dietrich Blodau studied art in Dortmund and Berlin. He came to Ireland in 1970 to set up a department of printmaking at the Limerick School of Art, where his inspirational teaching quickly established it as an important centre for print-making.Blodau’s contribution to the arts continued beyond the LSA. He and his artist wife, Carol Holloway, established an art school at their home in Rathkeale based on principles of equality, accessibility and interdisciplinarity. Although that was not successful, they ran summer schools for visual art, theatrical and other cultural disciplines and helped to forge links between Limerick and left-thinking arts organisations in East Germany and other places. His commitment to social justice and human rights can be seen in his images of Dunnes Stores Workers striking in solidarity with anti-apartheid activists in South Africa in the 1970s. Blodau was a founding member of EV+A, in Limerick in 1978, a seminal event in the visual arts calendar in Ireland, providing a meeting-place for artists and curators from all over the world. He visited Cuba and created lithographs and watercolours of Havana, Trinidad (Cuba) and Remedios. His art reflects his awareness of inner-city poverty, urban decline and neglect. Aidan Dunne noted his sensitivity to the mood of the locations that he drew, etched or painted, remarking that his ‘Compositions based on a Travellers’ encampment in an urban wasteland are outstanding.’ His 80th birthday was marked by a retrospective exhibition at Limerick’s Hunt Museum (2017) to honour his artistic achievements and his contribution to the visual arts in Ireland. Building offers an opportunity to witness the technical skills for which Blodau was praised. The building of the title stands on a street corner, which bears the name Cé na Comlann Uisce. Thanks to the artist’s incredible subtlety of handling, we see the building partly through the shadow thrown across it by another, while the surface of the print is given depth through the use of embossing and engraving, which puncture the flat surface. Colour is also used to create depth, the inky blackness of the interior revealed through partially open or broken windows. Their openness is not an invitation however, more a subtle threat of what might be lurking inside. Building bears witness to the dereliction and abandonment of inner-city spaces and consequent build-up of social problems.