28 March 2006

1916 leaders’ portraits in unique art exhibition

Daily Ireland

Website causes a stir with dramatic depictions of historic Irish rebel heroes

by Anthony Neeson
28/03/2006

**Click photos to view - many more on artist's site

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usA unique art exhibition featuring the leaders of the 1916 Rising is to go on public display to mark the 90th anniversary of the historic event.
Lost Dreams is a series of paintings by the Dublin artist Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin.
The idea of the series is to explore Irish history in a visual way, to represent well-known Irish figures not as strict historical paintings but in more of a modern interpretation of their lives and their times.
The artist has exhibited widely throughout Ireland. His work consists of drawings and paintings and features local scenes as well as images from his travels to the west of Ireland and abroad. His social and political themes range from the local to the global.
However, it is his paintings of the 1916 leaders that is causing a stir on his website www.gaelart.net. “I’ve always had an interest in Irish politics and history,” said Mr Ó Croidheáin.
“But we don’t see Irish historical figures portrayed in culture, particularly film-making because it is so expensive.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us“The idea was to select a set of political leaders for a series of paintings.
“I didn’t want to paint them as strict historical figures but rather make them modern, using abstract and colour.
“The difficulty here is that all the photographs of the leaders are in black and white so even trying to guess the colour of the eyes was a problem.”
The artist said he had thought long and hard before embarking on the series.
There are other Irish leaders from history on his website including Theobald Wolfe Tone and Eoghan Rua Ó Néill (Owen Roe O’Neill) but there are notable exceptions, such as Daniel O’Connell.
“Daniel O’Connell was essentially a monarchist and he very much looked after his class interests.
“I’ve concentrated on those leaders who were revolutionary and progressive.
“I’m interested in the leaders who were concerned for the ordinary people of Ireland.
“I’ve asked friends of mine, if we had an Artists Square in Dublin like they have in Budapest, which seven leaders would they pick. That made for an interesting exercise.”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin’s Lost Dreams can be viewed on the website www.gaelart.net.
The paintings will go on show at Oideas Gael in Glencolumbkille in Co Donegal in July.

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