Aidan Flanagan
Co Meath-Based Irish Contemporary Painter.



Atlantic Drive, Achill.

POSTMODERNISM
For late 20th century artworks,
see: Contemporary Art.
For styles and periods, see:
Contemporary Art Movements.

Aidan Flanagan (b.1955)
Contemporary Irish Artist

The contemporary painter and printmaker Aidan was born in Portlaoise, Co Laois, and currently lives and works at his home/studio in Ratoath, Co Meath. A self-taught artist specializing in screenprinting and watercolour painting, he has exhibited several times at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) and the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA). Most recently his work has been accepted for Footprint International in Norwalk, Connecticut, the 6th Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and the 1st Open International Print Competition in Cornwall, UK. He is especially noted for his outstanding landscape screenprints, a beautiful selection of which can be seen at www.aidanflanagan.com.

• For other modernists in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For the world's best, see: Top Contemporary Artists.


Early Morning Shadows, Newgrange.

Biography

Flanagan began his lifelong affair with nature as a youngster when he used to accompany his father on shooting trips around Co Laois. These outings gave him a deep appreciation of the surrounding landscape, especially the stark scenery of the winter months. It also triggered a fascination with the effects of light and shade, which he pursued further during his 34-year career as a pilot with the Irish Air Corps.

During his IAC service, he developed a particular talent for landscape painting watercolours, and exhibited in the Oireachtas and RHA Annual Exhibitions, as well as in solo shows in AIB Portlaoise, and United Nations HQ in Tiberias, Israel (whilst serving as a UN Military Observer on the Golan Heights).

 

In 2003, he took up printmaking, and taught himself the technique of screenprinting (also known as silkscreen or serigraphy) - a stencil method, in which ink is dragged across a mesh allowing it to print onto the paper in selected areas only. In 2008, as a result of his success with this particular medium, he took the decision to become a full-time artist.

Influences

Over the years, he has been influenced by the work of the great expressionst JMW Turner (1775-1851), the printmaker Rowland Hilder (1905-93), as well as the watercolourist and pastel expert John Blockley (1921-2002). In addition, he is an admirer of works by the illustrator John Skelton (b.1924), the aquatint master Norman Ackroyd (b.1938), the watercolourist/ printmaker Pamela Leonard (b.1940), the Scottish painter Barbara Rae (b.1943), the landscape artist Donald Teskey (b.1956), and the Aosdana portraitist Mick O'Dea (b.1958).

 

Flanagan's Working Method

Flanagan specializes in hand-pulled, original, limited edition screenprints, mainly of the Irish landscape. He uses water-based screenprint inks on Fabriano Artistico HP watercolour paper, and typically creates between 10 and 15 layers for each of his print editions. The layers for the image(s) are developed on acetates and on ordinary lightweight paper which is rendered translucent with vegetable oil. The layers are then individually "burnt" onto photosensitive, emulsion-coated screens - comprising wooden rectangular frames with tight fine mesh - and then washed-out and dried. This process forms a stencil of the layer on the screen.

Proofing of the image then begins in order to determine the precise colours and the strength of the ink-mix for each layer. The ink is dragged across the mesh/stencil using a "squeegee" and the ink is deposited onto the paper below. Once dry, the next stencil layer (using a new screen) is printed in register with the first layer. The process continues until all layers have been printed. Typically, this proofing process is carried out two or three times over a three-day period. With each proofing, adjustments are made to the stencils, and further screens are added if necessary. Each time the image is proofed, the result gets closer to the desired result.

Once satisfied with the colours and strength of mix, Flanagan begins the final editing process. After all layers have been printed, the images are scrutinised for any defects, and the final selected prints are numbered, titled and signed. Detailed records of the colours used are recorded along with edition numbers and so on. An edition of a print usually takes one week to complete. The stencils are then washed out of the screens, and the process recommences. His screenprint landscape works range in image size from A2 down to A6, with framed prices from €475 to €135. The A2 works are on 300lb HP weight paper, and all other works are on 140lb HP paper.

Exhibitions

Since 2008, Flanagan has exhibited his screenprints with the RHA, the RUA, Limerick Printmakers, EIGSE Carlow, Galway Arts Centre's "Impressions 08", and Central Bank, Dublin. In 2010, his work was accepted for Footprint International in CCP Connecticut, BIMPE in Vancouver, and 1st Open International Print Competition in Cornwall. His landscape screenprints are currently on show at Kilcock Art Gallery, Millcove Gallery, and Combridge Fine Art.

Website

To contact Aidan Flanagan, or to see more of his beautiful screenprints, I strongly recommend that you visit: www.aidanflanagan.com

Review written by Neil Collins (Editor) (Sept 2010).

• For more about contemporary arts, see: Homepage.
• For details of famous painters and sculptors from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Biographies, Paintings.


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