Robert Ballagh’s ‘Liberty on the Barricades (After Delacroix)’ is an interpretation of ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (1830), a painting by the French Romantic painter, Eugene Delacroix. The subject matter of Delacroix’s painting is the turmoil and violence that continued on the streets of Paris following the French Revolution in 1789. In France, Liberty is depicted as a lady, her image is influenced by the statues of Ancient Greece, alluding to the ideals of democracy that began in Ancient Greece and Rome. In Delacroix’s composition Liberty charges forward holding the French flag to represent democracy. The figure on the left in a nightshirt refers to the cruelty of the King’s soldiers who often killed men in their beds. Behind Liberty a mob of men surge forward and in the background the city is shrouded in smoke.
Ballagh’s graphic interpretation of Delacroix’s work is one of several pieces created by the artist from the late 1960s which reinterpret the material of classical artists depicting scenes of political upheaval and violence, such as Francisco Goya and Jacques-Louis David. These works reflect Ballagh’s ongoing engagement with contemporary social and political issues, in particular the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Ballagh uses a range of media in his work including paint, printmaking, collage and montage. He has also worked as a graphic artist and set designer and has designed stamps for An Post. In this work, in keeping with the graphic style of Pop Art which he adopted from the late 1960’s, he simplified the elements of colour, tone and texture, reducing the image to a bold outline using flat, opaque areas of colours.
|Medium||Acrylic on canvas|
|Dimensions||183 x 244 cm|
|Credit Line||IMMA Collection: Heritage Gift by Bank of Ireland, 1999|
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