The Irish painter and designer Robert Ballagh was born in Dublin in 1943. A graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology in architecture, he worked as an engineering draughtsman, a musician and a postman before taking up fine art painting full-time at the age of 24.
Pop-art is a major influence on Ballagh’s style of painting, and his artworks can be humorous as well as didactic.
As in the case of many artists, Ballagh was obliged to combine fine art with more commercial design activities. Using his graphic design skills, he produced over 70 stamps for An Post, as well as a series of Irish banknotes (“Series C”) for the government just prior to the introduction of the euro.
Ballagh also produced a wide range of murals, posters, limited prints and book covers. His theatre and set designs include works for “I’ll Go On”, Gate Theatre (1985); Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame”, Gate Theatre (1991); the Riverdance company; Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé”, Gate Theatre, Dublin (1998); and the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Croke Park, Dublin (2003).
Ballagh represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale Exhibition in 1969, and at numerous exhibitions in Europe and overseas, such as Florence, Ljubljana and Tokyo. Ballagh’s paintings are held in several public collections of Irish painting including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Labe Gallery, the Ulster Museum, Trinity College Dublin, and Nuremberg’s Albrecht Durer House.
Major exhibitions of his work have been staged in various European galleries, including Lund, Warsaw, Sofia and Dublin.
Ballagh was elected the first chairman of the Artists’ Association of Ireland (Aosdana) on its foundation in 1981, and is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. Ballagh is married to Elizabeth Carabini in 1967 and has two children.
The auction record for a work by Robert Ballagh was set in 2004, when his interior painting, entitled My Studio (1969), was sold at Whytes, in Dublin, for €96,000.