Zita McGarry Kelly
Contemporary Expressionist Artist Who Works in Acrylics & Oils, and Impasto Style.

Pin it

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

Zita McGarry Kelly (b.1966)
Irish Expressionist Painter

The Irish artist McGarry Kelly doesn't paint pictures, she creates magical visual stories with wonderful expressive pigment. Take her Lifelines for example. The reddish-orange is stunning, but beautifully balanced by the brown. It's a perfect colour combination for the story it tells. Or maybe stories is a better description. Are we looking at two cells under a microscope, two sunflowers opening their petals to the sun, or two entities reaching out to each other? Whatever it says, one can't help being enveloped by its colour. The great Latvian-American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko (1903-70) used to draw the spectator into his paintings, using colour to dictate mood, and McGarry Kelly seems to be on the same wavelength, at least in this work.

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


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

Other examples of her expressionism (eg. Famagusta, Figure Within 3) are reminiscent of the Swiss artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) - an influence acknowledged by McGarry Kelly. Very sensual, with an unreal, underwater quality. Except that colour remains a defining element: notice the calming effect of the grey-green in the womb-like Figure Within 3.

Meanwhile, a strong Russian influence is clearly discernible in paintings like Church Window, Disclosure and The Entrance, whose subtle imagery contains clear traces of Byzantine and Russian Orthodox icons. These works are little gems - absolutely exquisite!

Born in Longford, McGarry Kelly is an entirely self-taught artist. Painting in a loose impasto style using acrylics, oils and mixed media, she often works in fits and starts, late at night or before morning. Yet, her attention to detail remains impressive. Not only are many of her compositions very carefully planned, but her use of texture and shape is exemplary. For a self-taught painter, this is extraordinary.


She derives her artistic inspiration from an experience of several different cultures as well as "a past filled with memories of parents loved and lost, of good and bad times and the kindness of those who helped me through."

A good example of this, is her work Skin Boat - which she painted in memory of her father.

"My father was an angler who died when I was eight, and the boat is a study of him: his depth of passion for his sport, his love for the “game” Brown Trout or Salmon. The image is darkened as my memory starts slipping away, making me feel panicked at the thought of the complete loss of him..."

McGarry Kelly's works have been exhibited in a number of group and solo shows in Ireland, including: Naas Library, Naas Lawn Tennis Club, The Ryder Cup Committee Exhibition and the Dunlavin Festival of Arts. She has also exhibited in the Backstage Theatre & Centre for the Arts in Longford, and has more solo shows coming up in 2008. She lives in Sallins with her husband Paul Kelly and two sons, Ronan and Tadhg.

Our Opinion

As you can see, I adore McGarry Kelly's art. It has soul as well as power, and her iconography is particularly striking. Her feeling for colour and tone is truly special. Make no mistake, this girl is good.

To contact Zita McGarry Kelly, or to see more examples of her art, visit her easy-to-navigate website: www.zitamcgarrykelly.com

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

Visual Artists, Greatest
© visual-arts-cork.com. All rights reserved.