None of These Things: a ‘flight-of-fancy’ on the work of Pádraig Timoney




To understand the work of Pádraig Timoney is not to understand the work of Pádraig Timoney.


I put this one-liner up at the front, like a gate at a crossing, like a marker, like a row of orange witches hats, so that we can, counterintuitively, move on.


- we’ll come back to this.


What do I know about Pádraig Timoney? I know that he hails from Derry. I know that in an anecdote (or as some would have it ‘conceptual work’) Pádraig Timoney flew back to Derry, without informing his friends or family, went to a pub, drank a pint of Guinness and flew away again.



1 painting of a tree: the painting is green - the tree is white.

This is a negative image: an after image.



Pádraig Timoney seems almost wilfully allusive. I can find only one interview with him online and this, two minutes and thirteen seconds of unsubtitled Italian, has him standing in 240p and in front of a painting that doesn’t look like his but probably is.



1 Modernist abstract murky man colours painting.

1 photograph of a - boy?



Here is a list that I made of words that I culled from writings on Pádraig Timoney, writings that usually offered no insight but this:


To understand the work of Pádraig Timoney is not to understand the work of Pádraig Timoney.


His work is:


dissimilar, not typical, genre bending, wandering - with no single style.


It is (or can be):




It is (or can be):


cartography, a lugubrious one-liner, an imaginative alchemy, a cosmology rendered in rabbit skin glue (even though he is a vegetarian) of small and local scenes and the space age seen by an alien observer looking askance at the familiar and mundane.


If you don’t understand that you’re not meant to understand the work of Pádraig Timoney, the work of Pádraig Timoney will probably be ‘frustrating’[1].



1 painting of a building: six identical dark pink rimmed windows framing exactly the same: plant, curtain, vanishing point.



One regular criticism (and also commendation) is that Pádraig Timoney’s solo shows look like group shows.



7 white paintings each with two smallish blobs of colour marring their otherwise clean canvases. Each canvas has a pink mark with either a blue or green mark beside it: three of the canvases have blue marks - the other four have green.



Pádraig Timoney works with painting, sculpture, photography and installation (whatever installation means).



1 framed photograph behind glass of a city in… fog? Skyscrapers, water, river. Possibly, probably New York.



I think of the work of Pádraig Timoney as I sit on a train in the pitch dark at five thirty just south of Edinburgh. I think of the work of Pádraig Timoney as, out of the darkness looms and then focuses, a spot lit (in patches) bright green football pitch. I think of the work of Pádraig Timoney because the pitch is wet and not all that bright, despite the floodlights and thanks to the rain which falls in front of the lights like a curtain. I think of the work of Pádraig Timoney as I watch teams of boys - pre-adolescents - morph about in dark matching clusters in the rain.


A football pitch

a patch of colour

the rain;

splintering into pointillism under stadium lights and the lights of houses - flats in blocks that move in rectangles - domestic scenes, golden and floating, disembodied in the darkness.





Here’s a hydrangea.



‘Drawing from autobiographical episodes, occasional observations, personal interests and events, Timoney’s works retain the uniqueness of each form of experience.’[2]

A work by Pádraig Timoney, from a previous exhibition, took its title from a loose translation, a Gaelicisation of the English phrase Go On - which his grandmother used to say to her chickens, as she shooed them out of her kitchen.



1 BIG painting: grey + white + black in ink and paint. Ink shadows, white dots, white ground, a point cloud on top of geometric shapes and spaces. Two small framed canvases are stuck on this BIG painting - one, white and minimal, looks modern - Italian - white on white in glue + paper + paint. The other, in a lime green frame, is a childish map made in a childish hand. The writing in the bottom left hand corner is a key in blue + green + brown + yellow. The text reads:







higher ground




Now picture a pumpkin shining in the sky.
























No wait.


That was another artist

and that

wasn’t a pumpkin.


Imagine this pumpkin is a superhuge concrete boat that has crashed into a small volcanic island in the bay of Naples, knocking the top off it and causing an eruption. This is the title of a work by Pádraig Timoney. It is a photorealist painting of a slice of pumpkin sitting on a piece of wood that is being used as a paint palette (the smears of paint on the wood are signifiers - paint standing in for paint - that suggest that this is the use to which the wood has been or is being put). The wood or palette is resting, precariously (?) on what I assume to be a sawhorse in a studio. The white walls and edges (depictions) of (unfinished?) paintings suggest that this is a studio. And yet I have absolutely no idea what the purply-red or brownish-black blobs are: volcanic islands? dried paint? Whichever way you look at it, all of this, all of the above is paint.


‘That may very well be...’



Liam Gillick once described the work of Pádraig Timoney as:


‘deeply rooted in both the theoretical and practical aspects of image production. This is what we see. This is what we face in the gallery. A reprocessed collection of visual representations that are presented in opposition to yet strangely in dissonant synch with the history of painting as an activity in itself.’[3]



‘Hey Pádraig, did you ever hear the one...’



at the Walker Art Centre, at the opening-day panel discussion of an exhibition of and about abstract painting, the German, ‘groovy’ and currently very beardy, writer, critic and curator Jan Verwoert is speaking:


we know Frank Stella: what you see is what you get. I mean it’s an answer to this: ‘tell it like it is’ - ‘what is it?’ - ‘it’s a black painting about black paint.’ And you feel like, that may very well be, yeah? But at the same time there is something, especially about Frank Stella, that is undeniably very, very trippy. And how do we get to that kind of strange loopyness, that strange trippyness when there’s obviously something about the painting that is not just mere paint on canvas. On a certain profound level this is not just what it is. There is some strange notion of non-identity built into it that undeniably what you see before you is what it is but it also isn’t what it is - it is what it is and it isn’t what it is and that’s the loopy thing about it. On a certain level positivism doesn’t help because the fascination in this loopy echo space is that things are no longer quite what they are and they are what they’re not quite continuing to be - and so on.[4]


Jan Verwoert produces a Roland TB3 bass synthesiser and uses it to demonstrate his theory:

What you get with these synthesizers and what is basically the secret in loopy dance music is the so called filter resonance, filter sweep or the self-oscillation of a filter which is one of the strangest things because a filter should just kind of physically, mathematically shape the sound wave but there is a moment when sound oscillation can produce other objects to oscillate, you know, when you put something else in front of a speaker and the object starts to vibrate but where the filter that filters the curve at some point starts to vibrate with the sound like an object would do and in that moment when the filter starts self-oscillating it produces the strangest kind of overtones, everything you have is material reflexivity like paint on paint, there’s nothing, no spirits hidden in there it’s really just this stuff but this stuff produces the strangest oscillations where, out of a reflexivity, it’s not a reproduction of what’s already there, but the strangest overtones appear. [5]


Jan Verwoert bobs his tousled head along to the beat. He pushes a button, twists a knob and a strange birdsong - a sound that should not be there - becomes - is audible.


- eat your vegetables.

‘For this exhibition Timoney has structured his work with the idea of Shepard Tone, a sound that when played gives the auditory illusion of either continually ascending or descending pitch, but that actually gets no higher or lower. It is the auditory equivalent of a spinning “barbers pole”.’ [6]


But what they didn’t tell you


is how the Shephard Tone works.








These squares represent tones. Any set of squares in vertical alignment together make: one Shephard Tone. Colour represents loudness. Purple is quiet. Green is loud. Overlapping notes that play at the same time are one octave apart and as each scale of squares fades in and out it is impossible to hear the begging or the end.


It’s about superposition.


It’s about separation.


It’s about repetition.


It’s about overlapping, ascending and descending.


It’s a strange oscillation where the world isn’t quite - as it just is.




* * *



White tree. Green ink wash, nebulous and out of focus.


Pull back.


To reveal:


an after image.


Pan left.


Murky Modernist man colours painting.


Photo of a (?) boy.


Side angle – profile,

can hardly make out the…




Pan left,

pull back,



dots across from the tree

- colours after the image.


The photo:

zooms in



a boat,

the Hudson,

the Chrysler building - spire sticking

up through the fog.

A flat grey rectangle


switch angle


of a building,

a reflection of the tree on the surface of the glass

on the surface of the flat grey building

- the UN building;

rectangles floating in the fog.


Cut to:


Painting of the building.

The building is beige. It has a

slate roof and a dark pink trim on the windows.

In every single window there are:

identical pink flowers

identical green leaves

identical reflections

identical curtains (which are sheer).

Outside the building is:

a distant fence,

a grey sky.

Green leaves on the trees surrounding.

Attached to the building are:

a green box.

a bit of wall,

two drainpipes,

two chimneys,

a red brick portico.

There are no people in the painting.

In front of the building is:

a grey unmarked road.


Cut to:


Modernist murky man colours painting: a brown, grey, khaki green, dark pink, flesh pink, purple pink bowel. A white diamond shape is wedged at the centre of this gastrointestinal scene. Wet brush - dry brush, green on brown makes red - green like the tree before the image.


Cut to

reverse angle:


Modernist Murky Man Colours


followed by


White Tree Green Background


BIG Painting

(seen on far wall)


Pan right.


7 white canvases,


the building,


the photograph (at last!) of the (?) boy - adolescent - with dark skin and light coloured clothes - looking straight into the camera - standing on a dirt, brown, country road. Leaves are on the trees on the left + above to the right on the curve of the road. 


Cut to:


7 white canvases. 14 marks = pink + blue/pink + green. Monkey paintings (blobs and scribbles in scratchy pencil) three above and four below, in landscape, not hung straight.


Zoom in and out of focus.





* * *



arty fact:


a substance or structure

not naturally present in the matter

being observed

but formed

by artificial means.[7] 





'Within his paintings, he [Pádraig Timoney] deploys an expansive methodology, which includes abstraction, realism, text and graphics, chemical treatments and found objects – to construct unique sets of images. This amounts to an exploration of how paintings and their images are assembled, as objects and representations of phenomena. Timoney’s work is in part founded in the classical role of the artist, recording subjective experience. In other instances he treats the canvas as space for alchemical-like transformations where mental processes, ideas and experiences are materialised. Through various approaches to the reconstruction of images throughout his work – materially, cognitively and perceptually – Timoney plays out his imagination over a variety of surfaces'.[8]



‘Hey Pádraig did you ever hear the one about…’



Moby Dick was absolutely furious. The two dimensionality of the whole situation was sickening and as for that prick (that lunatic!) with his stabby pointy sticks well, it didn’t bare thinking about. What a bloody impertinence! What utter incoherence! What downright inconsistency! But it had to be said, and Moby Dick was the first to admit this, he’d made a right hash of it. Yes, he had to concede that he’d destroyed and thoroughly trashed it. And there was no getting away from the fact that here he was - The Great White Whale - reduced to a paper cut out - a trope of a whale with little more integrity than an origami frog. A paper plane would have been better - more dignified, even a kite - they were still able to fly. No he’d got himself into a right situation and there was no getting away from it. He was tethered to this mess, this mess of his own making, pathetically shackled to imitation sea wreck, sea wrack and pieces of card stuck together and to him with craft glue. The Great White Whale flopping around, beached for all eternity in a children's book. Snap! Flash! Blinding white! And that fucker had called him a fish.



‘You know Pádraig, ever since the show I’ve been seeing them all over. Red and white like mini lighthouses marking out space - making gaps. The best one was in the city up in amongst the rectangles, up in the glass and steel ascending ascending ascending and calling, softly, out in red and white “cutthroat razors and candy stripes.”’





Put it over there -



Q: Where?

A: hmmmmmmm I don’t really know – through there I suppose.

Q: Will it be cold there?

A: hmmmmmmm I don’t really know. I imagine there will be a desert and lots of stars. So yes I guess it will be cold.

Q: Will you come back?

A: hmmmmmmm. No.

Q: How does it make you feel?

A: hmmmmmmm. I feel absolutely fine about everything - everything is sparkling.



- strawberries and cream.



It’s freezing again.

I had to de-ice the windscreen (again) before I could drive to work and the windows kept fogging up and the radio said it’s supposed to get down to -27 tomorrow and my snow shoes have started coming away at the heel and I can’t afford new ones so I’m wearing my old felt ones and they are wet because when I was walking back to the car from the grocery store the mush on the road soaked in at the toe through the felt.



‘Who? Moiré?’


Samuel Pepys mentioned it in 1660. It sounds French and is, in a way, but before that it was English - from the English ‘mohair’. As a phenomenon it pops up all over the place - I saw it once on corrugated tin. Its first big gig was in fabrics, in the warp and weft of ‘watered silk’. It’s all about lines crossing lines, lines on top of other lines - or dots - but the dots have to be in lines. It’s become a real problem in digital video: that TV presenter should have known better - that tie is hurting my eyes.

‘For the moiré interference pattern to appear, the two patterns must not be completely identical, but rather e.g. displaced, rotated or have slightly different pitch.’[9]


- Rodney you plonker.



Choooosh kun-cuk. Choooosh kun-cuk. Choooosh kun-cuk.


We love you we love you you are so pretty.

We love we love you you are red and white and we are yellow.

We love you we love you we give you brightly colours.

We love you we love you we place them at your feet.

We love you we love you we made you a hierarchy.

We love you we love you we are flat and ugly.

We love you we love you can you do our living for us?

We love you we love you it’s so good of you to let us

love you love you love you.


Choooosh Kun-cunk. Choooosh kun-cunk. Choooosh kun-cunk.



In conclusion:

Pádraig Timoney is boarding a plane on the last leg of a round trip to Hollywood. The woman in front of him is wearing Poison by Christian Dior and he prays he will not sit next to her. He fingers his boarding pass and uses it to dislodge a strawberry seed that is stuck between his gum and top right canine. The corner of the boarding pass is now slightly dogeared and damp. The line moves slowly. Paul McCartney claims to be having a wonderful time. A woman stops and speaks to Pádraig Timoney and he can hear in her voice that she is deaf. ‘Nearly twenty to ten’ he says as he points and she says that time is moving slowly and he says - starts to say - something about time and airports but the woman is already walking away and as she does not see him - does not hear him. Pádraig Timoney looks out at the runway: blue lights, yellow stripes and an orange witch’s hat that has fallen on its side. Pádraig Timoney moves toward the front of the queue where the girl at the desk takes his ticket and mispronounces his name.












































[1] Michael Davis, ‘Pádraig Timoney Shephard Tone’. The List. 14 March 2012. [accessed 6 December 2018].

[2] The Modern Institute Website. ‘Pádraig Timoney “The Scrambled Eggs Salute the Trifle”’ (exhibition text) 01/03/2016—26/03/2016. [accessed 10 December 2018].

[3] Liam Gillick, ’Pádraig Timoney. Iconography in the Age of Infinite Reproducibility’. 2014. The Modern Institute Website.  [accessed 10 December 2018].

[4] Jan Verwoert, ‘Painting in the Present Tense’, opening-day talk at ‘Painter Painter’, Walker Art Centre, 2 February 2013. [accessed 10 December 2018].

[5] Ibid.

[6] The Modern Institute Website. ‘Pádraig Timoney “Shephard Tone”’ (exhibition text 01/03/2012—12/04/2012.  [accessed 10 December 2018].

[7], ‘artifact’. [accessed 10 December 2018].

[8] The Modern Institute Website. ‘Pádraig Timoney “The Scrambled Eggs Salute the Trifle”’ (exhibition text) 01/03/2016—26/03/2016. [accessed 12 December 2018].

[9] Wikipedia, ‘moire’. [accessed 10 December 2018].



































Gallery 1  ‘SHEPARD TONE’





























‘Pádraig Timoney ’

Camden arts centre 2019