Tate St Ives
20 May – 24 September 2006

The Irish artist Tony O’Malley (1913–2003) has a long connection with St Ives, having lived and worked in the town from the mid 1960s to 1990. A popular figure, O’Malley was part of the St Ives School but left to return to Ireland 1990. This exhibition is selected from the retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in October 2005.

Focusing on certain aspects and key moments in an extraordinarily productive career, Tony O’Malley: Selected from the Irish Museum of Modern Art brings more than twenty works from 1960 onwards. In the early 1960s, O’Malley began one of his best-known series of pictures, which he continued until the late 1990s. Made every Good Friday and frequently drawing on images from local Kilkenny tomb carvings, they address, often obliquely, the theme of Christ’s passion. These ranged from Wooden Collage, Good Friday 1968, a strikingly simple evocation of the Crucifixion in blackened fragments of wood and slate, to Good Friday Painting 1999, which bears the expanded repertoire of gesture resulting from his visits to the Bahamas in the 1970s and 80s.

Following his permanent return to Ireland in 1990 and undeterred by failing eyesight, he found new modes of expression. O’Malley continued working almost up to the time of his death in January 2003, true to his feelings, expressed in an interview The Sunday Tribune in 1984, ‘I have no time for people who mess about, doing nothing when it suits them … There’s so much to do. If I run out of canvas I just paint over something I’ve already done. I’m an old man and I started painting late. I don’t want to waste any time’.

The exhibition has been curated by CaomhÍn Mac Giolla Léith, curator, critic and lecturer in Modern Irish at University College, Dublin. An illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition, priced £22.00

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