O’Donoghue often uses historic events and figures from art history as a point of departure in his work. In this exhibition, the artist questions the legacy of Vincent Van Gogh in our collective cultural memory, particularly focusing on the paintings Van Gogh made during the last two years of his life in Arles and St. Remy in the south of France.
Technically inventive and on a human scale, O’Donoghue’s richly worked new paintings revisit and reimagine the imagery observed and invented by Van Gogh as he struggled to make a lucid vision manifest while his health deteriorated in demoralising circumstances. Although personally familiar with Arles, St. Remy and the setting of the Saint-Paul asylum where Van Gogh was a patient, having first visited the area in 1973, O’Donoghue has chosen to situate these paintings in his own immediate environment: the enclosed fields beside his studio. The subject therefore is brought into O’Donoghue’s own territory and field of vision.
On show are new large scale paintings which reimagine some of the seminal late works of Van Gogh, in particular the lost painting The Painter on the Road to Tarascon but also The Wheatfield with a Reaper and Enclosed Field with a Peasant, both shown in London as part of The Real Van Gogh at The Royal Academy 2010. The encounter with these two paintings sowed the imaginative seeds in O’Donoghue that have led to this new body of works.
Born in Manchester in 1953, Hughie O'Donoghue lives and works in London and County Mayo, Ireland. He was elected member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2009 and to Aosdána (an Irish association of artists) in 2013. He has been an artist-in-residence at the National Gallery, London and St John’s College, Oxford. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the National University of Ireland in 2005. Since 2011 the artist’s work has been represented by Marlborough. His work has been exhibited widely in Britain (including solo exhibitions at: Leighton House Museum, London, 2016; University Gallery, Newcastle, 2013; Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, 2012; Leeds City Art Gallery, 2009; Imperial War Museum, 2003; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and touring, 2001-03; and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 1999), as well as in Ireland, Germany, France, Holland and the Czech Republic.
A fully illustrated catalogue with an introduction by Martin Gayford accompanies the exhibition.