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Tony O’Malley Exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition of some 50 paintings and gouaches by the distinguished Irish painter Tony O’Malley opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Tuesday 3 July 2001. ‘Tony O’Malley: Paintings and Gouaches from the McClelland Collection’ focuses on O’Malley’s formative period, from 1960 to 1980, when he lived in Cornwall and before he became a household name in Irish art circles. The works are chosen from a larger group of O’Malley paintings in the collection of George and Maura McClelland, who have generously lent these and other paintings, drawings and sculptures to the Museum on long-term loan.

Nature and history form the basic themes in O’Malley’s highly distinctive paintings. Working intuitively, he has, over 40 years, continued to record the moods, movement and bird song of the countryside, usually of Ireland but also of the warmer, more exotic islands where he spends the winter. His paintings, on everything from scraps of recycled paper and canvas to the discarded hoops of an old Guinness barrel, also celebrate the medieval and Gaelic associations of such places as Callan, Jerpoint, and Kells, Co Kilkenny, as well as his ancestral roots in Clare Island on the west coast of Co Mayo. The exhibition concentrates on that middle period of O’Malley’s life, when his full-time career as an artist was only beginning. It was these works and others from that period that excited the interest of George McClelland and lead to his strategic promotion of O’Malley between 1980 and 1983 and inspired the view, still held by McClelland today, that ”Tony O’Malley is the Irish Artist of the 20th century”.

Tony O’Malley was born in Callan, Co Kilkenny, in 1913, where he returned in 1987 and now lives with his artist wife, Jane. He began to paint while struggling with ill health and working as a bank official in various Irish provincial centres. It was only after his retirement on health grounds in 1958 that he went to St Ives in Cornwall where he attended two painting holiday courses given by the artist Peter Lanyon. These were O’Malley’s only experience of formal art education but the artist community around St Ives offered him much-needed support and friendship.

Since 1983 Tony O’Malley has been recognised as one of the leading Irish painters of his time, with major exhibitions throughout Ireland and the United States. In 1999 he was the recipient of the Glen Dimplex Award for a Sustained Contribution to the Visual Arts in Ireland, while a year later his work formed the central, visual focus for the Festival of Irish Culture, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, USA.

‘Tony O’Malley: Paintings and Goauches from the McClelland Collection’ continues until 6 January 2002

Admission is free.

Opening hours: Tue – Sat 10.00am – 5.30pm
Sun & Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.30pm

Closed: Mondays

For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Philomena Byrne or Monica Cullinane at Tel : +353 1 612 9900,
Fax : +353 1 612 9999
20 June 2001