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Past Exhibition

Dragana Jurisic & Paul Gaffney

23 June 2016 - 28 July 2016



Oliver Sears Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of My Own Unknown an exhibition of recent work by Yugoslav artist Dragana Jurisic.

 Comprising photographs, polaroids, lightboxes and notebooks, these seemingly diverse elements cohere to an examination of identity. Perceptions of nationality and gender are the two obvious trigger points. The question of the artist’s own nationality is examined vicariously through the eyes of a mysterious aunt who disappeared from Yugoslavia in the 1950s and lived in Paris assuming multiple identities. That Yugoslavia itself has disappeared as a sovereign nation in the interim is the starting point of the artist’s search for a recognizable truth.

 Keats’ quotation that ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know’ leads Jurisic further along a wider philosophical engagement with those two entities. L’Inconnue de la Seine is the name given to an unknown young woman whose body was found in the river Seine. A death mask was subsequently made and her beauty inspired artists and writers of the day, including Man Ray, Anais Nin and Albert Camus. The serenity, beauty and anonymity of this young woman’s death mask provokes a philosophical discussion on beauty, art and truth.

 Jurisic tackles gender perception in 100 muses, a collection of 100 polaroids of nude female sitters. Their faces obscured and only the death mask visible in each polaroid, this works is an attempt to re-assemble L’Inconnue de la Seine out of 100 women, but also a question is asked; how well do we know anyone, including ourselves? The lightboxes in ‘Noli Timere Mnemosyne' is a body of work that deals with past fears, with not being afraid to remember and with finding strength in solitude.


Dragana Jurisic was born in Slavonski Brod, Croatia (then Yugoslavia). She is currently based in Dublin, Ireland. In 2008, Dragana completed Masters in Fine Art at the University of Wales, Newport, receiving a distinction for her work. Since being selected as an Axis MAstar in 2009, “An annual selection of the most promising artist from the UK’s leading MA courses”, Jurisic has won a number of prestigious awards and has exhibited widely both in Ireland and Internationally. Her work is part of the Irish State Art Collection, University of Michigan collection and many private collections. In 2013 she presented the acclaimed YU: The Lost Country a series of photographs from her journey around the former Yugoslavia, retracing the route of an extraordinary expedition made by Anglo Irish writer Rebecca West in 1930s and written about in her acclaimed book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941). The exhibition is accompanied by a book and documentary of the same name. Jurisic completed her PhD research at the European Centre for Photographic Research in 2013. Currently she is writing a new book, an overlapping fictionalized biography of her aunt Gordana Čavić, L’Innconnue de la Seine and herself, the narrator.




Paul Gaffney returns to the Oliver Sears Gallery with a new body of work entitled Stray.

Continuing his investigations into different ways of experiencing and representing nature and landscape, Stray depicts Gaffney’s wanderings through a dense pine forest at night in near-total darkness. Gaffney’s photographs create a mood which is in equal parts alluring and apprehensive, and feels both painterly and cinematic in its approach. The delicate black prints appear to absorb light, while the loose narrative evokes the slow, tactile experience of cautiously navigating through such a disorientating environment, where our visual abilities are so limited that we must trust in our other senses, and instincts, to find our way.

 Gaffney has released a handmade limited edition artist book of Stray, which has been nominated for the Best Photobooks Kassel 2016 Experts Selection.


Paul Gaffney's research is aimed at developing a meditative approach to landscape photography, and explores how the act of image making can enable and disrupt a sense of connection with one’s surroundings. Drawing on Arnold Berleant’s theory of a ‘participatory approach’ to landscape, in which the artist, environment and viewer are considered to be in continuous dialogue with each other, Gaffney’s practice proposes to communicate an experience of immersion in nature to the viewer.

Gaffney's first self-published photobook, We Make the Path by Walking, was nominated for the Photobook Award 2013 at the 6th International Photobook Festival in Kassel, shortlisted for the European Publishers Award for Photography 2013, and selected for several ‘Best Photobooks of 2013’ lists, including Photo-Eye and The British Journal of Photography. His work has also been presented as solo exhibitions at the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel (Luxembourg), Flowers Gallery (London), Belfast Exposed, Ffotogallery (Cardiff) and PhotoIreland Festival 2013, and in several group shows in the United States, UK, South Africa, Ireland, Italy and China.









Dragana Jurisic

My Own Unknown

Archival pigment print

3 Large 100 x 120cm, and 10 Small 30.5 x 35.5cm and 2 Artist’s Proof, 2016