Saturday 25 May 2019

Desmond snaps up a dark portrait of troubled nation

'Sword of Justice' is one in a series of
controversial paintings called
'Sword of Justice' is one in a series of controversial paintings called 'Boomtown'
Another piece in the series depicting Dublin as a calcutta slum
This painting depicts people taking to the stormy seas to flee

Ken Sweeney

A PAINTER whose recession-themed canvases have provoked controversy has attracted the patronage of millionaire businessman Dermot Desmond.

Artist Brian McCarthy's 'Boomtown' series captures Ireland in 2010 in which the country is portrayed as a vast shanty town, or the Irish nation as boat people in a small craft on treacherous seas.

But it is the night-time scene. 'Sword Of Justice', in which an angry populace prepares for revolution, which has caught the attention of one of the country's most successful entrepreneurs, Dermot Desmond, who purchased the work recently for €4,500.

"Dermot is a genuine patron of the arts," Mr McCarthy said.

"I met him last year at an exhibition in London and he explained to me that, rather than collecting old masters, he preferred to buy work that caught his eye.

"This painting seems to have done that. It's one of the biggest sales I've ever had."

The 50-year-old said the inspiration for his 'Boomtown' work came from listening to RTE programmes like 'Liveline' each day.

"It's the anger of the callers. I never planned to do a series of paintings on this subject but when the first piece 'Boomtown' got such a great reaction, I decided to turn it into a series. I've never known such a response. People seem to identify and understand perfectly what I'm feeling because they feel the same," Mr McCarthy told the Irish Independent.

Another picture in the series, 'Exodus', depicts the Irish nation in a small boat making a desperate attempt to flee.

"The idea came from the Vietnamese boat people who were forced to set sail for a better life.

"This is true for so many young people leaving Ireland now. I choose the backdrop of pointed peaks because it's as far away from an Irish landscape as you can get."

The exhibition 'Boomtown' can be seen at the Keeling Gallery, 41 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2.

Irish Independent

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