John Kingerlee
Abstract Landscape Painter: Biography, Paintings.

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John Kingerlee (b.1936)

Considered to be one of Ireland's leading contemporary artists, John Kingerlee is noted for his abstract landscape painting and multi-layered abstract heads and landscape compositions. His international reputation was significantly enhanced in 2006, when his abstract painting "Grid Composition" was sold at Sotheby's in New York for $156,000 - a world record for the artist.


Born in Birmingham, John Kingerlee attended a school run by the Marist Fathers before leaving to take up a series of jobs: gardner, part-time poet and then manager of a flour mill. It wasn't until 1962 at the age of 26 that he turned to art full time. Despite his lack of formal training in painting or drawing, he had his first solo exhibition in London in 1967.

By this time he had settled in Cornwall where he remained for 20 years, although he also spent long periods in Spain and Morocco before finally moving in 1982 to an isolated farmhouse on the Beara peninsular in County Cork, where he currently resides with his wife Mo. In 1988, he converted to Islam and visits Morocco every year to improve his Arabic. Many of his paintings are inspired by scenes from his travels, as well as the culture and iconography of folk art, naïve art and the wild views of West Cork.

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Working in oils, Kingerlee's range of abstract art encompasses landscapes, collage, images of animals, a series of heads and also abstract grid paintings. His compositions are typically multi-layered, and are built up over months, if not years, by up to 100 layers of paint.

A perfectionist in his working methods, Kingerlee creates his own colours (sulphuric yellows, reds, silver and zinc, platinum and titanium and much more) sometimes combining pigment with organic matter, and typically paints standing up. He works on dozens of paintings simultaneously, using two palette knives to apply colour, as well as a decorator's brush to create a 'stippling' effect.

In his landscape painting, the self-styled 'outsider' Kingerlee rejects the traditional way of depicting the countryside through the use of aerial and linear perspective to create artificial depth. Instead he prefers to recreate the experience of "being in and moving through" the landscape by painstaking creative attention to colour and surface texture.

This sort of approach to art makes Kingerlee's paintings relatively challenging to understand and appreciate. To make a start, it's vital to see them in the flesh, since so much of his attention is focused on surface texture.




In view of his intellectual preoccupation with 'the flat surface' - something he shares with Cubists, Surrealists, Dada and other 20th century innovators - it's not surprising that his influences include: painters like Salvador Dali, the Dada artist Kurt Schwitters, Cubists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, and the Swiss mixed media artist Paul Klee, another pioneer of the Modern Movement.


Kingerlee has enjoyed numerous solo exhibitions in galleries and museums across Ireland, Canada and also the United States, where his work is highly sought-after by collectors and investors. (See other Famous Irish Artists).


His works are represented in a number of eminent collections including those of President Bill Clinton & Senator Hilary Clinton, Sir Anthony & Lady O'Reilly and others.

More Information About Irish Fine Art

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