Marlborough Fine Art is delighted to announce an exhibition of new works by Hughie O’Donoghue RA. It follows O’Donoghue’s curation of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2014 and his exhibition The Measure of All Things, where the artist showed a group of paintings to mark the centenary of WWI at Chapter House, Westminster Abbey. This exhibition will be the artist’s first display of works solely preoccupied with the experience of place. His method is derived from a knowledge and understanding of the methods of both abstract and figurative painters of the past which are synthesised in his own work.
Permanent Green is concerned with the ways we understand place, nature and memory and how these ideas intersect. Ten large scale paintings make up the principal body of this new work, which is rooted in the raw and elemental countryside of County Mayo in the west of Ireland. O’Donoghue has visited the area frequently since childhood, both sides of his family having emigrated from Ireland during the early 20th century. As he arrived in Mayo as a child from the urban environment of Manchester, a sense of wonder in nature would dominate his experience. This sense endures as an imaginative presence and reference point in the artist’s work and is returned to both literally and figuratively.
The works in Permanent Green can be understood not as landscape paintings but rather as sensory memorials to places half imagined and half real. They attempt to chart the emotional and memorial experience of place, exposing the blurring of fact and fiction in our sense of our surroundings. Investigating the desire to map and name places, they deal with both the natural and the artificial elements of place. Amongst depictions of water, fire and earth there stand built structures and other examples of human intervention in nature.
The exhibition takes its title from the name of a shade of paint and thus Permanent Green refers both to the endurance of nature and to the act of painting itself. Indeed, the principle subject of the exhibition is as much the act of painting as it is the scenes depicted.
O’Donoghue has said, ‘These paintings are a form of emotional archaeology, an unpeeling of memory and experience to uncover something that has left an indelible mark upon me. Paradoxically they are realised in an accumulation of successive layers of oil paint as images are slowly built, corrected, reinforced and finally coagulate into something that feels like an equivalent of the truth. A visual poem dredged out of imagination and memory.’
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an essay by the poet and author John McAuliffe.