Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Expressionist-Style Irish Painter: Streetscapes and Genre Paintings.

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The Eternal Sunshine Of The Luas
Terminal, St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin (b.1961)
Irish Expressionist Artist

The energetic Irish painter Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is no ordinary Gaelic-speaking artist. Noted for his prolific series of Expressionist-style cityscapes of Dublin, as well as his West of Ireland landscapes and beautiful photography, he is a man bursting with creative ideas and intellectual achievement. A graduate in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, he also holds a Masters degree in Communications and Cultural Studies, and a PhD in Language and Politics (Dublin City University). In addition to developing his painting skills, he worked as a Post-Doctoral researcher at Dublin City University on the TRASNA project (an online database of translations of Irish literature) and as a part-time lecturer. (Note: For other modern painters based in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists. For the world's best, see: Top Contemporary Artists.)


The Long Haul Home, Capel St. Dublin
(Detail)

POSTMODERNISM
For late 20th century artworks,
see: Contemporary Art.

BEST IRISH ARTISTS
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painters, including exponents of
expressionist townscape art, see:
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His diverse range of interests - some of which are key influences in his art - include: Irish history, Gaeilge, the history of art, philosophy, art photography (his photographic portfolio includes a wealth of images from China, Russia, North Africa, Australia and the length and breadth of Europe), Asian cultures, traditional Irish, world and classical music, and teaching Set and Ceilí dancing. At present he is learning Spanish while focusing his energies on a new art exhibition based on streetscapes of Dublin.

His artistic output encompasses representational and figurative works in the form of drawings, oil paintings, and illustrations. (For similar work, see Representational Painting in Ireland.)

His works have been shown in numerous galleries across Ireland, and in several solo exhibitions in Dublin.

 

Not surprisingly perhaps for such a well-travelled and erudite individual, his style of painting is influenced by several modern masters, including: the wonderful colourist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), the symbolist Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), the romantic realist Seán Keating (1889-1977), and the Dublin genre-painter Harry Kernoff (1900 -1974). But a more noticeable influence is that of the great Irish Expressionist Jack Butler Yeats (1871-1957), especially in Ó Croidheáin's looser work. (The works displayed here exemplify the latter's less expressive and more representational style.)

They say that Yeats never forgot his experience in the newspaper trade, and that as a result many of his compositions capture an 'event' or 'story'. The same kind of narrative is clearly evident in Ó Croidheáin's work, along with a carefully contrived sense of motion. His expressionist streetscapes are packed with 'happenings' involving individuals, groups, cars and buses. Even in his quieter works there is still narrative, albeit more subtle.

His treatment of sunlight and shadow is outstanding: anyone who knows Dublin will instantly be familiar with the 'glare' of bright sunshine in the exact locations chosen by Ó Croidheáin - clear evidence of his painstaking plein-air study. Furthermore, in his composition, energetic brushwork, use of colour and Edvard Munch-style silhouettes and shadows, Ó Croidheáin manages to convey serious issues but in a non-committal way. Yes - he seems to be saying - like all cities Dublin is changing, but change is an integral part of life: who knows what may happen tomorrow? Moreover, his awareness of the outside world allows him to portray signs of immigrant culture without any hint of xenophobia. If Jack B Yeats' expressionism was rooted (mired?) in a deep sense of Irishness, Ó Croidheáin's seems much more expansive, enjoyable and forward-looking.

Thus, although, in his pictures of Dublin, one senses that he is portraying a place and a culture that he cares deeply about, he is (like a documentary film-maker) too absorbed in the 'what is' to be led astray by 'what should be'. In this respect, his sense of balance between past, present and future, is impeccable.

Our Opinion

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is difficult to summarize, not least because one feels he has so much yet to reveal. Suffice it to say, that any art collector who wanted a Dublin scene by Jack B Yeats, but lacked the necessary funds, could do a lot worse than invest in half a dozen of Ó Croidheáin's outstanding canvases.

To contact Caoimhghin O'Croidheain, or to see more examples of his painting or photography, visit his website: www.gaelart.net

Review written by Neil Collins (Editor) (July 2008).

• For more information about visual arts in Ireland, see: Homepage.
• For details of famous painters and sculptors from Ireland, see Irish Artists.


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