Bridget Fahy (b.1973)
Sower with Yellow Glove (2009)
If Man With A Hoe (1860) by Jean-Francois Millet (1814-75) represents the ultimate 19th century image of a peasant broken by manual labour, Fahy's powerful series of recent paintings entitled The Sowers of Cyprus, continues the theme but without Millet's profound alienation. Despite the back-breaking labour of her subjects, she still manages to convey a sense of their love for the land: a sense of belonging. Whether this is due to her subtle use of colour, or the deliberate impersonality and nose-to-the-ground activity of her figures I'm not sure, but the effect is that of timeless acceptance.
In her earlier series of Bedouin paintings on the nomads of Egypt - works characterized above all by their magical tonal beauty - Fahy conveys a similar impression of anonymous people living in very close proximity to their physical surroundings, except that here the focus is the indivisibility of man and camel.
Unfortunately, what the images on this page don't show is Fahy's talent for texture and surface manipulation. Her blocks of colour are applied in thick layers and often scraped back in order to produce additional tension in the picture surface, all of which adds to the rawness of the composition. This is deeply felt and intensely visual art. One feels that Fahy is only beginning to show her true capabilities: that there is much more to come.
Her latest works will be on display at the Florence Biennale in December 2009.
Born in Limerick, Fahy took an Honours Degree in Fine Art Painting, at Limerick School of Art & Design (1990-4) before taking off to spend a year in New York. In 1996 she returned to her home city and gained a 1st class Diploma in Art Education, after which she spent eight years teaching, taking advantage of the long holidays to travel to India, South-East Asia, and North Africa. In 2005, she settled in Cyprus.
Method of Work
Fahy paints in oils, usually on board but also on canvas. Her drawings are executed principally in ink, or oil and ink, on paper or canvas. As noted above, her work is characterized by a combination of colour, line, shape and form, and employs a range of differing textures. Marks are buried and rediscovered, allowing traces of the painting's construction to be revealed.
All her paintings derive from plein-air drawings, or occasionally photographs. For example, her Sowers paintings derived from a series of early-morning drawings of workers in the fields, later finalised in her studio. Although sky and landscape are important elements in her painting, the figure remains paramount. Thus she is fundamentally a figurative painter, albeit within an expressionist or semi-abstract idiom.
Fahy's main inspiration comes from the countries she has travelled to or lived in. In addition, and not surprisingly given her appetite for colour and a certain magical tonalism, her other influences include Matisse - especially his paintings Le Rifain Assis (1912-13, Barnes Foundation, USA), and In the Moroccan Cafe (1912, Private Collection) - as well as the iconic The Sleeping Gypsy (1897, Museum of Modern Art, New York) by Henri Rousseau.
Fahy's work has appeared in a number of group exhibitions in Ireland, London and Cyprus. In addition she will be showing at the Florence Biennale in December 2009, while a solo exhibition is planned for Cyprus in 2010.
Her work is represented in private and public collections in the USA, Cyprus, Ireland, England, and Austria.
To contact Bridget Fahy, or to see more of her beautiful art, I strongly recommend that you visit: www.bridgetfahy.com
Review written by Neil Collins (Editor) (August 2009).
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CONTEMPORARY ART