Patrick Hennessy was born in County Cork in 1915 and moved with his family to Scotland in 1921. He was trained as painter in the academic tradition at Dundee College of Art, where he was greatly influenced by his tutor, the leading Scottish landscape artist James McIntosh Patrick. Hennessy excelled at Dundee and on graduating won a scholarship to travel to Europe. Between 1938-39 he went to Florence, Rome and Venice studying the work of the old masters. He then settled in Paris, the centre of Surrealism and avant-garde culture, where he worked for a time under Fernand Léger.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was part of the influx of artists and writers who returned to Ireland like Louis le Brocquy, Gerard Dillon, and the White Stag Group – led by Basil Rákóczi and Kenneth Hall. These outward-looking artists formed the backdrop against which Hennessy made his work at that time.
He showed annually at the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Dublin Painters Society until the mid-50s when he was instrumental in the founding of the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery which would go on to represent some of Ireland’s leading artists. In the late 50s he gained a level of international success having regular exhibitions in the UK and North America where he found a steady market for his work. In 1959, due to ill-health he spent the winter in Tangier, Morocco. This was a turning point in his life and career as he would spend less and less time in Ireland before finally settling in Tangier in the early 70s.
IMMA held a major retrospective of Hennessy’s work in 2016 as part of the Modern Irish Masters series entitled Profundis.