Ferguson Donation On Show At Irish Museum Of Modern Art
Fifteen paintings from an important body of works recently donated to the Irish Museum of Modern Art by Sligo businessman Vincent Ferguson and his wife Noeleen have just gone on exhibition at the museum. The donation, which includes paintings by Brian Bourke, Brian Maguire, Edward Maguire, Elizabeth Magill and Michael Mulcahy, comprises 35 works, all by Irish artists or artists who have been closely associated with this country, and represents most of the dominant strands in Irish painting of the 1980s. The donation will be formally received on behalf of the State by the Minister of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D Higgins, TD, at 1.00pm on Wednesday 16 April.
Former owners of the Hendrik’s Gallery, Vincent and Noeleen Ferguson did not limit their collection to the domestic scale usually associated with privately owned art in Ireland. Thus large-scale pieces, such as Patrick Hall’s Faust series and Anne Madden’s Night Paths triptych, rub shoulders with a life-size portrait of Patrick Collins by Edward Maguire. The Fergusons’ interest in gestural painting is clearly evident in the work of David Crone, Michael Cullen and Basil Blackshaw, while a more political attitude is revealed in Brian Maguire’s Divis Flats and Liffey Suicide.
The collection is mainly figurative rather than abstract, with an emphasis on landscape. Stephen McKenna’s Irish Coast contrasts the small struggling human figures on the quay with the heroic clash of water and rock which surrounds them, but nature is subjected to a more rigorous formal aesthetic in Clement McAleer’s Seafront At Night. Brian Bourke presents an altogether different mood in the exuberantly coloured Cardet, France, while Barrie Cooke’s Night Lake Orange interprets the Brazilian rain forest which inspired it in glowing abstract paintwork.
Landscape is not the only genre which appeals to the Fergusons. History in the form of Brendan the Navigator combines with the artist’s personal experience in The Navigator by Michael Mulcahy. An early Felim Egan, Venus III, reminds us of his figurative roots while anticipating the abstraction of his later work. While the donation strongly represents the expressionist, figurative tradition in Irish art, a younger generation of artists is also represented by Elizabeth Magill’s Red, Yellow and Blue Cars and Kathy Prendergast’s Body Map drawings. The Prendergast drawings are not included in the current exhibition as they were shown in the museum’s recent Figuration show.
The Vincent and Noeleen Ferguson Donation:
1. Basil Blackshaw Trees at Cogry Female Nude 1982
2. Brian Bourke Cardet, France
3. Barrie Cooke Nude in an Armchair Electric Elk Still(Woman of the Burren) Double Knot Night Lake Orange(Rain Forest)
4. David Crone Window View Untitled Untitled
5. Michael Cullen Monkey painting (not correct title)