Michael Flatley taps global art market

Dancer Michael Flatley has been stepping his way into the history books for the past 21 years — and now he’s tapping into the global art market, having reinvented himself as a painter.

Michael Flatley taps global art market

Conscious that the jig was up on his previous career, the man who made Irish dancing a world phenomenon, becoming a multi-millionaire in the process, is expected to do well in the lucrative market for Irish art in Britain.

After selling some of his art through auction houses in Ireland, Flatley is offering 25 of his paintings in London this month at prices ranging from £50,000 to £250,000 (about €68,000-€340,000).

His Firedance exhibition will open at 12 Hay Hill, a Mayfair club and art gallery, on June 25 and run until the end of July.

Among the pieces on exhibition is one entitled Elvis, which is expected to fetch in excess of £100,000.

'Elvis'

Last April, Flatley’s paintings fetched more at an auction in Dublin than those of celebrated Irish painters such as Jack B Yeats, Paul Henry, and John Lavery.

Flatley creates his art by dancing on to paint-spattered strips of lino in a studio at his Castlehyde mansion in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Flatley said he was motivated to capture the movement of dance through the medium of paint and canvas.

“A dance lasts only as long as it is being created, but by combining the movement of dance with the medium of paint and canvas, I can truly capture and immortalize dance movements on canvas,” he said.

According to the exhibition brochure, Flatley is the only artist to create a painting in this way: “He paints for hours on end for days at a time until exhaustion.” It also quotes Sunday Times art critic Richard Brooks, who described Flatley’s works as “striking”.

Another painting be Flatley, titled 'The Power'

They are striking in more ways than one. In 1989, Flatley set a world record for tapping speed at 28 taps per second, breaking it in 1998 with 35 taps per second.

He has now brought that phenomenal yet transient magic to permanent effect in his paintings.

As the brochure puts it, “the seemingly incalculable steps making contact with the surface each have a different purpose in the overall effect and is thus translated as the paint reveals a complex of colours that could not be achieved in any other form”.

If previous sales are anything to go by, Flatley will strike gold. He already has an estimated fortune of €500m from dancing.

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