There are some sizzling summer art exhibitions on, and in prospect around the country, right now.
‘Between Paris and Pont-Aven: Roderic O’Conor and the Moderns’, opens at the National Gallery in Dublin next Wednesday and runs to October 28.
Dorothy Cross and Brian Maguire in ‘Naked Truth’, a survey of the nude, has just opened at the Crawford Gallery in Cork and also runs to July 28.
And already there is great interest in the exhibition ‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger’ at Uillinn, the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen from July 20 to October 13. At the Hunt Museum in Limerick, the exhibition of paintings from the Crawford’s Great Southern Collection, runs until September 2.
The National Gallery show presents around 43 of O’Conor’s works alongside his better known contemporaries, Gauguin and van Gogh, who were his good friends. It focusses on the pictures made by O’Conor in Pont-Aven between 1887 and 1895. The modern artists gathered then in the remote Brittany village, were at the absolute forefront of the avant-garde in art.
O’Conor and Gauguin often painted side by side and one drawing by Gauguin includes in the background some self-portraits by the Irish artist.
After Gauguin’s death in 1903, O’Conor stopped going to Brittany and settled in Paris. Suspicious of dealers, he turned down the chance to be represented by the legendary Ambroise Vollard, who provided invaluable exposure for artists like Cezanne, Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso and Matisse.
This decision goes some way towards explaining why the reputation of this extraordinary Irish master suffered and still awaits proper rediscovery on the international scene. Hopefully, the National Gallery show will go some way towards redressing this imbalance.
The exhibition at the Crawford surveys the nude as portrayed by Irish artists. It ranges from ancient Sheela na-Gigs to artists including Francis Bacon, James Barry, Dorothy Cross, Robert Fagan, Amanda Coogan, Mainie Jellett and Brian Maguire.
The touring show at Uillinn is from the collection of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, holder of the largest collection famine-related art in the world.
It has already been seen in Dublin Castle and will tour to Derry next January. The opportunity to show it in Skibbereen was made possible by having a suitable venue of the highest standard to showcase the artworks by major Irish and American artists of the last 170 years. Among them are Daniel MacDonald, Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, William Crozier, Hughie O’Donoghue, Dorothy Cross and Alanna O’Kelly.