Paul D'Arcy
Irish Contemporary Artist: Symbolist Painter: Biography, Paintings, Exhibitions.

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Universal Pond (detail)
A study of water lilies was the start to
this work, which represents the aquatic
foundation of all life.

Paul D'Arcy

The search for a visual language to represent the universal conundrum - who are we, and what is reality - this is what drives the extraordinary work of Paul D'Arcy, and has done for more than a decade. In this manner, if stylistic labels are helpful, he follows in the footsteps of the awesome Dutch fantasy painter Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), and the Spanish semi-abstract Surrealist Joan Miro (1893-1983), both of whom wove rich narratives on the subject of reality as they perceived it, using a deeply personal set of icons and imagery. In the unyielding rigour of his quest, one feels that D'Arcy also has much in common with the French Realist Jean-Francois Millet (1814-75), who was driven to depict the reality of human life for nearly five decades. Above all, this is serious art, whose symbolism aptly captures our mysterious and contradictory world, in which life can appear (or disappear) in an instant, where people slowly decay, and where time-past is time-present is time future.

• For other postmodernists in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For the world's best, see: Top 200 Contemporary Artists.


Contemplating Eight Eggs (detail)
A portrait representing the growing
self-awareness of the artist's daughter,
with allusions to birth, the cycle of life
and consciousness.


Pools Of Inspiration (detail)
A work which deals with the different
levels of consciousness and how one
flows into another. The pelican is a
reference to D'Arcy's youth in Namibia
and the influence of the past on our
present reality.

Visual Appeal versus Interpretive Possibility

The celebrated American critic Clement Greenberg (1909-94) - who as it happens also wrote a classic monograph on Joan Miro - once said that all great art should strive for an exciting tension between visual appeal and interpretive possibility. The art critic Peter Jordan says that D'Arcy has gone a very long way towards achieving just this, a view with which I humbly concur. D'Arcy's carefully crafted snapshots of life may spring from his own personal vision, but they contain lessons for all of us.

Biography

Born in Dublin, D'Arcy spent his childhood in South Africa and Namibia. A sketcher and painter from his earliest childhood, ("I cannot remember a time when I did not draw and paint, so there was never a point when I became "interested in art" - it was always part of me"), his world has always been one of images more so than words.

WHAT IS SURREPTUALISM?
A term coined by Paul D'Arcy
to explain the combination of
surrealism, conceptualism
and realism in his work.

HISTORY OF ART
For details of the evolution and
development of Western painting
and sculpture, see: History of Art.
For information about Ireland,
see: History of Irish Art.

POSTMODERNIST ART
For late 20th century paintings,
see: Contemporary Art.

He is primarily a self-taught artist, although he attended night classes during the late 1980s at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), where he absorbed life drawing and painting under Desmond Carrick RHA. Afterwards, he went on on a 9-month tour across India. On his way back, he stopped off in Poland, and while in the National Museum in Warsaw came across art students copying the great Old Masters - a practice he himself adopted five days a week for six months in the National Gallery of Ireland. To make ends meet he started working on building sites during the day, while painting at night. In 1991, he began a diploma course in Fine Art at Dun Laoghaire College, whose tutors included the renowned Nick Miller. He has been painting full time since 1992, and continues to travel extensively.

D'Arcy's works have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Ireland and abroad, and he was a nominee for the 1999 Cothu awards and the ICF Awards in 2007. He is a member of the Visual Artists Association, a founder of the SOS National Exhibition, and now lives and works in the seaside town of Skerries, near Dublin.

 

Profiled on National TV

In March 2005, RTE Television broadcast a documentary about D'Arcy's year-long painting trip to Australia and New Zealand, and discussed the resulting works. In October 2008, a second TV program profiled the artist's major exhibition - "Celestial Puddle" - which was held in Wexford at Denis Collin's gallery and was part of the famous Wexford Opera Festival.

Working Methods

D'Arcy works primarily in oils and oil stick, not least because their slow drying qualities extends the completion time and allows for more changes to happen along the way. ("A great deal of work goes into each painting, even before the first brushstroke. I will sketch or collage using drawings and photos to visualize the idea. The concept can then proceed in a number of directions, which I edit before starting to paint. As a result I only produce about thirty paintings a year").

His subject matter varies - family life and travel have been major sources of inspiration - but is primarily based on symbolism. Influences on his work and painterly technique - drawn from a deep appreciation of Western art over the past four to five hundred years - include: Bosch, Miro, Millet, the iconoclastic Caravaggio (1571-1610), the restless Francisco Goya (1746-1828), the polished Surrealist Rene Magritte (1898-1967), the effervescent Salvador Dali (1904-89), and the angst-ridden Norwegian Edvard Munch (1863-1944), among others.

 

Solo Exhibitions

Paul D'Arcy's solo shows include the following:

2008: Upstairs Art Gallery, Wexford, Opera Festival
2006: Gormley Fine Art Galleries, Dublin
2005: Old Market Arts Center, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
2004: Daffodil Gallery, Skerries
2001: Daffodil Gallery
1998: Kent Gallery, Kinsale, Cork
1997: Academy of Arts, Pisa, Italy; and Dyehouse Gallery, Waterford
1996: Stables Gallery, Dublin
1992: Guinness Hop Stores, Dublin
1990: University College Galway
1988: Artspace Swords, Co Dublin

Collections

Paul D'Arcy's paintings are represented in numerous public and private collections in Ireland, England, Italy and America, including the following:

• Office of Public Works
• Fingal County Council
• Fitzpatrick Hotel Group
• Bono - U2
• Mary Bannotti
• Bertie Ahern - Former Taoiseach
• Great Southern Hotel Group
• Drogheda Port and Docks
• Guinness Ireland
• Irish Blood Transfusion Service
• First Active PLC
• Country Crest Ltd
• HB Denis Ltd
• Westbury Hotel
• Crowley & Associates
• O'Duffy & Associates

Representation

Paul D'Arcy's work is represented by the following galleries:

Art Upstairs Gallery, 89 North Main Street, Wexford.
Daffodil Gallery, Skerries, Co Dublin.
Kent Gallery, Kinsale, Cork.
Gormleys Fine Art Gallerie, Dublin, Belfast & Omagh.
Barbara Stanley Gallery, London.
Gail Hayter, Ontario, Canada.

Website

To contact Paul D'Arcy, or to see more examples of his exceptional art, I strongly recommend that you visit his website: www.pauldarcy.com

Review written by Neil Collins (Editor) (May 2009).

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


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