Seán McSweeney (b.1935)
© Estate of Sean McSweeney. All rights reserved
Dimensions120 × 100cm
MediumOil on canvas
ProvenancePurchased in 1969
Sean McSweeney moved to Sligo in the 1980s when his work has become synonymous with the county. His mother came from Ballyconnell in Co.Sligo and McSweeney spent his childhood holidays there. His present studio is in the former schoolhouse where his mother attended classes. Thus the locality in which the artist lives and works and which he paints has very strong personal associations.
The Road is a relatively early work which predates the artist’s move to the West. It was painted while he was living in Wicklow, close to Dublin where McSweeney grew up and became an artist. Largely self-taught like many of the leading Irish painters of his generation, McSweeney learnt about art from looking at the paintings of Paul Henry and Jack Yeats in public collections. His work also shows his awareness of international post-war painting. It reflects his willingness to experiment with colour and form and to develop a strong personal style which is inspired by landscape. Roadways and bogholes – evidence of man’s interference and man’s presence in the land form the focus of many of McSweeney’s paintings. In this work a roadway leads up a steep mountain side where it appears like a cascade of colour incapable of penetrating the summit. The act of painting the landscape has transformed it into a luminous almost abstract image. The use of different brushstrokes and techniques of applying the paint are evident, creating a richly textured surface. Colours have been multilayered revealing sudden contrasts of tone. McSweeney’s relationship to the landscape is ultimately a romantic one in which he struggles and succeeds in capturing its essence through paint.
Written by Roisin Kennedy