Megan O’Beirne
Irish Artist - Abstract Expressionist Painter, Holocaust Art, Photographer.

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Pentimento, Flamenco Series

Megan O’Beirne M.A., H.Dip.

No artist can be fully understood or appreciated within the context of a single page, especially not someone like Megan O'Beirne, whose painting and fine-art photography reflects her immense energy as well as a deep concern about the world around her. Her drive for self-expression has taken her to many different locations, including Iceland, Canada, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France.

Based in Wexford, with studios outside Gorey, her practice incorporates black-and-white photography and painting in all media. A graduate of UCD, O'Beirne received her first formal training in art from Maria Clark at NCAD, as a Ceer student, and went on to attend Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology as a mature student to study Fine Art, specializing in painting and photography. After graduating with a Diploma in Fine Art she co-founded the art group KUBE (2001-2005) with whom she exhibited widely in Ireland, and also in China.

• For other postmodernists in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For the world's best, see: Top 200 Contemporary Artists.


Firebloom, Flamenco Series


Anonymity

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A wide interest in literature, Irish, English,and Italian, together with some years residence in Italy (researching for an M.A.) are among the principal influences in Beirne's art, while more recently her paintings have been inspired by major issues such as the Holocaust and the environment. (Compare other works of Holocaust art of the post-war era.) What makes her artistic contribution so special, is the combination of her forensic-style photographic skills with a seemingly insatiable curiosity for shape and colour in her painting.

Beginning with her 'Flamenco' series (2003), of large scale expressionist canvases in oils and acrylics, which alluded to the exclusion of Flamenco culture from mainstream Spanish society, O'Beirne progressed to more broad-based open/closed themes in her 'Exits-Entrances' series (2003) depicting formally organised spaces. The spectator is invited to "enter" these unthreatening spaces which act as a visual environment for contemplation.

POSTMODERNIST ART
For late 20th century paintings,
see: Contemporary Art.

After this, came her 'GeoMorph' series of abstract art (2004), exploring the 'curved line' and evoking the boat, the wheel, the arc of a bow, the cusped moon of Bronze Age sacred disks.

Even more striking was her series of Holocaust images (2005), which rank with any art produced on the Nazi concentration camps. Her oil painting 'Anonymity' is an absolute masterpiece: its stripes capturing the striped uniform of the inmates while also evoking the dreadful cage in which they suffered. The whole painting is ignited by the poignant half-Star of David.

In 2006, O'Beirne returned to her exploration of shape in her Harbour Blue Series.

O'Beirne's fine-art photography (which unfortunately we do not have space to display) has been been acclaimed in several solo exhibitions. Her current exhibition (Dublin), entitled “Steel Trees – The Future?” focuses on the deterioration of the Canadian lodge-pole pine woods by the pine-bark beetle epidemic, due to global warming.

Other solo shows have included her Jan 2007 exhibition of photographs taken during her travels in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France. In addition, she has had a series of solo photographic exhibitions on the theme of James Joyce: in Dublin Central Library, Ilac Centre, Dublin, 2004, The James Joyce Centre, Dublin, 2003/4, and at the Sala in the Quarantotti Gambini Library, Trieste, Italy, in October, 2004.

 

Our Opinion

O'Beirne is impossible to summarize. Some of her work can only be fully understood with a certain amount of study, although her expressionist Flamenco paintings are an instant joy. And her paintings of the Holocaust are especially powerful - more so, for being so understated - and we strongly urge you to visit her website for this series alone.

To contact Megan O’Beirne, or to see more examples of her photography and painting, visit her website: www.meganobeirne.com

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

• For details of famous painters and sculptors from Ireland, see Irish Artists.
• For more information about contemporary Irish painting and sculpture, see: Homepage.


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