A Song for Orla

John O'Leary (1929 – 1999)

  • Artist
    John O'Leary
  • Title
    A Song for Orla
  • Date
    N.D.
  • Dimensions
    76 × 122cm
  • Medium
    Oil on board
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Unknown
Description

John O’Leary was born in Cork and attended the Crawford College of Art. In 1957 a scholarship enabled him to travel to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian and with Cubist artist André Lhote who had also taught Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone. In Paris he befriended the Sligo born artist Patrick Collins and was impressed by the work of Leon Zack, an expatriate Russian painter and designer whose abstract aesthetic influenced O’Leary’s approach to painting.

Back in Cork, O’Leary taught art for the Cork County Vocational Education Committee and later at the Crawford. In 1974 he moved to Sligo where he was appointed head of the art department at Sligo Regional Technical College and was a founder member of the Sligo Art Gallery.

Throughout his busy teaching career O’Leary continued to create and exhibit his own work which often originated in his personal impressions and memories of the landscape. Both painting and drawing were fundamental to his practice and he was particularly adept at using pastel to create lyrical images that captured the mood and atmosphere of the natural world.

The title of this work suggests a connection with O’Leary’s daughter Orla.

Written by Riann Coulter

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