Denise Cassidy
Biography of Irish Contemporary Artist Noted For Her Expressionist Figurative Paintings and Portraits.

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For a list of the leading Irish
painters, including exponents of
colourist painting, see:
Best Irish Artists.

Denise Cassidy
Irish Expressionist Painter

There's a sumptuous quality about much of Cassidy's work, a sensuousness which makes it a real eye fest. It's unusual to see a figurative artist who so obviously enjoys luscious colour for its own sake. Perhaps this explains Cassidy's growing popularity on the Continent: the Germans and French have a much deeper appreciation for colour. I mean, can you imagine what Irish art critics would have said if the likes of Matisse, Kandinsky or Emile Nolde had launched their careers in Dublin - at least Roderic O'Conor had the good sense to take himself off to France. Who knows, maybe the current recession will make critics and collectors reflect on the value of painters like Cassidy, who paint wonderful visual treats without any need for explanatory waffle. In any event, one feels it is only a matter of time before her tonal alchemy reaps the attention it deserves. (For other modernists in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists. For the world's best, see: Top Contemporary Artists.)

For late 20th century artworks,
see: Contemporary Art.



Born in Dublin, Cassidy began drawing and painting as a child. She studied at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) during the late 1970s, returning later to study at Dun Laoghaire Art College in the 1980s. Her main interest is life-drawing and life-painting - she was lucky enough to have John Coyle RHA as a tutor at NCAD - and she continues to explore both abstract and representational styles in a wide range of mediums, including oils, acrylics, watercolour, egg tempera, pastel, charcoal and mixed media. One of her particular passions is the study of techniques used by the Old Masters - notably the working methods of the Florentine, Dutch and Flemish masters, some of which she incorporates into her own work - and she often uses home-made oil paints based on recipes developed by the great European artists. She has been a teacher of art for many years with the city of Dublin VEC and combines this with a busy personal career as a portrait painter. Recently, she was commissioned to paint a life size portrait of the famous Irish conductor/composer Colman Pearce, which was presented to in celebration of his contribution to Irish music.


She works principally in oils, and draws inspiration from a relatively wide selection of artists, including Old Masters like Caravaggio (1571-1610), Rubens (1577-1640) and Rembrandt (1606-69), and as well as modern expressionist figurative painters like the Viennese-born Lucien Freud (b.1922), the mercurial Francis Bacon (1909-92), and the Portugese-born fantasy-artist Paula Rego (b.1935), to name but a few. First and foremost a figurative artist ("my favourite subjects are people and animals"), Cassidy loves painting people involved in activities like music, dancing, theatre and the circus ("I try to capture the energy of a moment during a performance").

Her working methods typically involve a number of stages: after selecting a theme, she researches it from books, photos, and the internet, before starting to sketch. When painting, she employs a layering technique, glazing one colour over another to obtain a visible glow. Habitually experimental in her composition, she sometimes combines representational art with a degree of abstraction, as in "Dizzy", see left, where she uses overlapping transparent planes for visual effect.


Cassidy has enjoyed numerous solo shows at venues such as the Dublin Writers Museum and the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre, and has participated in group exhibitions both in Ireland and overseas. In 2008, she was invited to participate in an International Group exhibition which also featured works by Salvador Dali (1904-89, Felix Roulin and Paulo de San Lorenzo at the jmaGallery in Vienna. She was also invited to exhibit at the Museum of the Americas, Miami, Florida. In 2009, Cassidy will be exhibiting at the International Art Fair, Forli, Italy and the Syro Foundation d'Art in Alsace, France. Her work has been included in the book Modern and Contemporary Artists, 2009, published in Milan, Italy.


Cassidy's work is represented in private and public collections in Ireland, England, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and the USA.

Further Information

To contact Denise Cassidy about her art, a portrait commission, or to see more examples of her work, visit her website:

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

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