The Outsider – Irish Times

Maybe it was just a matter of time until Cléa van der Grijn came around to making a series of paintings based on the iconography of the Madonna. She had, for example, a liking for gold leaf that chimed with a yearning for the transcendental, a desire to reach beyond the ordinary and the visible, that came across in her work. This was expressed, to take one example, in a series of paintings about diving, a metaphor for a venture into another realm. Then four years ago, she moved to Co. Roscommon to live in a converted monastery. The paintings she had made there, shown at the Cross Gallery ( and later at the Roscommon Arts Centre ) under the title THE OUTSIDER, are meditations on the Madonna. Not, as Medb Ruane points out in her catalogue essay, the Madonna as a familiar, static icon, but as an evolving presence, reflecting the changing social, cultural and religious priorities of the societies and individuals, male and female, who continually re imagine her. What emerges is remote from the easy pieties of habitual faith, rather a surprisingly gritty sense of troubled endurance and grace under pressure.