Francis Tansey

Francis Tansey 2The contemporary Irish abstract painter Francis Tansey was born in Dublin in 1959. He studied at the National College of Art and Design in (1978-1983). Specialising in abstract art, in 1985 he became the first Artist in Residence, at Butler Gallery, County kilkenny, where his brightly coloured geometric acrylic painting caused great interest.

When the internationally acclaimed abstract artist Sean Scully saw Tansey’s work exhibited for the first time in a 1983 NCAD Degree Show, he called Tansey one of the most exciting prospects in Irish art.

Tansey’s paintings have immense visual power. He typically uses rollers as well as brushes to apply acrylic co-polymer paints in countless thin layers until the desired colour saturation is achieved, utilizing tape to achieve ultra-crisp edges.

Francis TanseyIn their expression of spacial relationships and juxtapositioning of colour, they have several characteristics in common with the Abstract Expressionists Mondrian and Rothko.

Since he began painting full-time, Francis Tansey has shown his works in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and his work is in the collections of the Ulster Museum, the Arts Council of Ireland, Jefferson Smurfit Group, AIB and many other corporate and private collections.

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Conor Fallon (1939-2007)

Cono Fallon 2An influential exponent of contemporary  Irish sculpture during the late 20th century, Conor Fallon was strongly influenced by the artist Toney O’Malley and the St Ives group of artists in Cornwell where he lived for some time. His most recognizable works were large steel sculptures of birds, hares, horses and fish.

Fallon was born in Dublin in 1939, one of six sons to the poet Padraic Fallon. The family soon moved to Wexford where the children shared the management of the farm, while their father worked as a customs official. The house was always full of visitors including writers, musicians and painters. As a child Fallon was fascinated by wildlife, especially birds, and often copied pictures from Archibald Thornburn s Book of Birds. He recalled later that his older brother Brian (who became an Art and Literary critic for the Irish Times) was a significant influence on him by introducing him to stories from the Odyssey.

Fallon was accepted into Trinity College, Dublin to study natural science. But on the advice of a perceptive professor, Fallon soon left Trinity and turned his attention to fine art. His father was horrified because he believed his son’s paintings to be ‘dreadful’. Ever practical, Fallon worked as an accountant during the day to earn a wage, and studied art by night. His early acrylic and gouache landscapes show strong influences ofJack B Yeats.

Wexford co co art purchases for 06-Conor Fallon  Crow Bronze Sculpture

In 1964 Fallon went to St Ives to see the artist Tony O’Malley, who was a family friend and had settled there a few years previously. He had hoped to study with the abstract landscapist Peter Lanyon, but on the day of his arrival, Lanyon died from injuries he received in a hand gliding accident. Instead, Fallon was introduced to a pupil of Lanyon – the artist Nancy Wynne-Jones, who was 15 years his senior. They felt an instant connection and were married in 1966. By this time, he had become disillusioned with his paintings, most of which he destroyed.

A turning point in his career came when he was introduced to the sculptors Denis Mitchell and Breon O’Casey who took Fallon under their wing. Mitchell in particular instilled a disciplined work ethic in Fallon, insisting that the last 100th of an inch was essential to the integrity of a piece. When Fallon created an Owl In Aluminium (1969) Mitchell advised him to specialize in sculpture.

Fallon held his first exhibition in 1972, in Nanly Orion. Subsequent solo exhibitions were staged in the Emmet Gallery, Dublin (1975), Taylor Galleries, Dublin (1983, 1990, 1993), Ballinglen Arts Fellows at Art Alliance, Philadelphia (1994) and the Theo Waddington Fine Art, Canada.

Although Fallon initially gained recognition for his smaller sculptures of birds, he later confessed he was unable to see how he could convert them into public sculptures without the risk of distortion. He eventually became better known for his large scale steel sculptures, mainly commissioned for public places such as Enniscorthy Bridge (The Singing Bird, (1993) the Bank of Ireland Centre, Independent Newspapers at Citywest, St Patricks Hospital and University College Cork. His works have a sleek, spare beauty with clean lines. He was also influenced by Cubism, which he considered ‘the’ development in the art of the 20th century. He was also influenced by the Romanian Sculptor Constantin Brancusi, as well as early Greek and Egyptian carved figure sculpture.

Fallon was awarded the Oireachtas Gold Medal for Sculpture in 1980, he was elected to Aosdana in 1984, and he became an Associate Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1981 and a full Member in 1989. He was awarded an Honorary Degree from the National College of Art and Design in 1993.

He died within one year of the death of his beloved wife Nancy, in County Wicklow, and is survived by their 2 children.

 

Felim Egan

Felim EganThe contemporary abstract painter Felim Egan was born in Strabane, County Tyrone in 1952. He studied painting and drawing in Belfast and Portsmouth before attending the Slade School of Fine Art in London, after which he began exhibiting in the late 1970s. He also studied for 12 months at the British School at Rome in 1980 before returning to Dublin. One of Ireland’s most respected exponents of abstract art, his paintings are carefully built up in layers of thin colour with stone powder ground into the acrylic. His visual vocabulary includes the use of hieroglyphic-type motifs over monochromatic areas of colour, evoking long horizons, big skies and empty sands.

Felim Egan represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale in 1980 and the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1985, and has enjoyed more than 55 solo shows throughout Europe and the USA since 1979. Major exhibitions of his artworks were held at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 1995-96, and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1999. He was awarded the Premier UNESCO Prize for the Arts in Paris in 1983, and in 1997 he received the Gold Award at Cagnes-sur-Mer. Egan has received several large scale commissions, including works for Dublin Castle and the National Gallery of Ireland. In addition, he recently completed a large scale sculpture at Cork Street, Dublin, October 2005. He is also a member of Aosdana.

Felim-Egan 2Felim Egan’s work is represented in numerous collections both public and private, including those of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Hugh Lane Gallery; An Comhairle Ealaion/Tha Arts Council; Trinity College, Dublin; University College Dublin; Office of Public Works; Conrad Hotel; Irish Life, Dublin; Allied Irish Banks; Bank of Ireland; Aer Lingus; A & L Goodbody Ltd, Dublin; Gate Theatre; Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny; Guinness Peat Aviation, Shannon; the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Ulster Museum, Belfast; North West Arts Trust, Derry; Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The British Library; Frtiz-Winter-Haus, Moderne Kunst Museum, Ahlen, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the European Parliament; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; and others.

The auction record for a work by Felim Egan was set in 2007, when his abstract painting, entitled Intertidal Note, was sold at DeVeres, in Dublin, for €19,500.