Conor Walton
Irish Artist, Portraitist, Still Life Painter, Biography, Paintings.

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Fruit Picker (2006).

Conor Walton (b.1970)
Irish Classical Painter

A glance at the paintings on this page should be quite enough to satisfy any art critic that Dublin-born Conor Walton is a prodigious talent in at least two of the most demanding genres: portraiture and still life. His extraordinary draughtsmanship and mastery of chiaroscuro (light and shadow), allied to his affinity for still life colour and composition make him one of Ireland's most gifted young artists. It's true that representational art of this type may not be seen as cool in a modern world driven by fashion and novelty, whose art schools typically place 'conceptual' ability above the more mundane skills of drawing and painting, but I guarantee it will last longer than Damien Hirst's stuffed fish as well as many of the abstract compositions that litter today's galleries. What's more, you don't need a PhD in Contemporary Fine Art Philosophy to appreciate it. You just need to look! (For other modern painters based in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.)


Still Life With Large Orchid (2004).

BEST IRISH ARTISTS
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For late 20th century artworks,
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Of course, no painter can produce this quality of visual art without possessing a massive streak of perfectionism, and Walton is no exception. In his final year at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, when others were completing three pictures a week, Walton completed just three during the entire period.

After graduating in 1993 with a Joint Honours Degree in the History of Art and Fine Art Painting, he took an MA in Art History and Theory at University in the UK, (awarded with distinction) in 1995, before moving to Florence (after winning a scholarship from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, in Canada) to master the traditional skills of disegno and colorito at the Cecil Studios, run by the American artist Charles Cecil. The teaching method used at the studios derives from the Italian Renaissance. Before any individual experimentation is permitted, all students must learn the rudimentary skills of draughtsmanship, and the sight-size method of figure drawing and painting from the model.

 

Returning to Dublin in 1996, Walton had his first sell-out solo exhibition in 1999 at Jorgensen Fine Art Gallery, the venue for several subsequent solo shows including his exhibition 'Philosophical Paintings' in June 2006, which included his evocative history paintings. He continues to participate in group shows in Ireland, the UK and Germany, and will be an invited artist at this year's Annual Exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy. His fifth solo exhibition, 'Landscape and Still Life', is due to take place at Jorgensen Fine Art early next year.

Walton's many awards include: The Taylor Prize for Painting (1993); The Don Niccolo D'Ardia Caracciolo RHA Medal (1997); The Keating McLoughlin Medal (1997); Third Prize `Lorenzo Il Magnifico' for Painting at the Florence Biennale (1999); Fourth Prize, BP Portrait Award 2005 at the National Portrait Gallery, London (2005); Portrait Ireland 2005 Major Award, Newtownbarry House Gallery (2005).

 

Walton's paintings are represented in numerous public collections, including: the Archdiocese of Dublin, the Boyle Civic Collection, Club na Muinteoirí, Dublin Dental Hospital, the Electricity Supply Board, the Irish Armed Forces, Maynooth College, the National Library of Ireland, the National Self-Portrait Collection, University of Limerick, St Patrick's College, Cavan, and University College Dublin.

Leaving aside the deeper philosophical background to some of his paintings which remains the subject of debate between himself and one or two critics, it seems clear that Walton - perhaps from the moment he picked up his first art book, a review of drawings by Michelangelo(!), is attempting to pursue similar paths to those trodden by the great European Old Masters. Insofar as such efforts help to sustain and renew this incomparable heritage, they are entirely to be welcomed and represent an object lesson for any aspiring artist.

Our Opinion

Anyone who can produce such astonishing masterpieces as 'Fruit Picker' (above) and Veiled (below), needs no recommendation from anyone. These visual treats speak for themselves. Walton is a truly stunning artist and deserves the highest recognition.

To contact Conor Walton, or to see more examples of his paintings, visit his website: www.conorwalton.com

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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