An exhibition of paintings and drawings by the British-born painter Hughie O’Donoghue opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 23 October. Hughie O’Donoghue: Corp spans 15 years of the artist’s practice, from 1984 to 1998, and is the first exhibition on this scale in Ireland since he moved to live in Kilkenny in 1996.
Hughie O’Donoghue: Corp, selected in close collaboration with the artist, comprises 25 works over 15 years portraying the human body, a key element in O’Donoghue’s work. The relationship between the languages of painting and drawing, which is also central to his practice, is also explored through the selection of the works. O’Donoghue has worked with large-scale drawings throughout his career and the exhibition includes a recent 7-metre-long charcoal and graphite drawing Crossing the Rapido.
Hughie O’Donoghue’s practice comes out of a deep understanding of the tradition of painting. Subject matter is developed through the painting process, with a figure often becoming a suggested presence in the finished work. He frequently works on a monumental scale, recalling the religious painting of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, though his work verges on abstraction. Since moving to Ireland, O’Donoghue has made a body of work in response to his family history which he has been researching through diaries, letters and photographs, with reference in particular to his father’s experiences in the Second World War. The exhibition will include several examples of these recent paintings and drawings.
Born in Manchester in 1953, Hughie O’Donoghue has been exhibiting his work in international solo and group exhibitions since 1982, and has gained a reputation as one of the leading painters of his generation. His paintings are included in important public collections including the National Gallery, London; the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; and the Arts Council of England. O’Donoghue was resident on the Artist’s Work Programme at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1996, when he worked on a particular series of paintings and also lead public masterclasses in drawing. He has spent the last 12 years working on a series of paintings entitled Via Crucis – a contemporary interpretation of the Passion. He exhibited a selection of these works at the Haus der Kunst, Munich in 1997. An exhibition of the series, which has been donated to the OPW, will be shown at the RHA Gallagher Gallery in January 1999, during the run of Corp at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
A fully-illustrated catalogue with an essay by the artist, will acompany the exhibition.
Hughie O’Donoghue: Corp is on show from Friday 23 October 1998 to 4 March 1999.
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