William Cunningham

Landscapes of Ireland March 5 - 15 2003

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William Cunningham - Landscapes Of Ireland

 March 5th to March 15th 2003

Willie Cunningham was born in 1946 and grew up near Crossgar, Co. Down. In 1978, he left his occupation as a philosophy lecturer to peruse a professional career in art. The move came after several successful, sell-out one-man exhibitions in his native Northern Ireland. He is essentially self-taught, having no formal artistic training. Initially, he was influenced by the somber palette of fellow northerners such as Norman McCaig and George Gillespie. However, Cunningham's fascination for gardening and for the ever-changing climate of Ireland saw the introduction of strong, vibrant colours very early on in his career.
His paintings possess a technique that accentuates an all over gestural mark making, where contrasts between representation and impression are subtly delivered. The appearance of spontaneity in his work is crucial, as painting the essence of the subject allows him to convey a purely visual experience, rather than imply explicit associations in the mind. Each painting boasts an abundance of cleverly organised naturalistic and strikingly non-naturalistic colour, awakening our senses to the artist's own, unique perception. An acquired instinct through a lifetime of observation has enabled him to create overall colouristic pictorial compositions in a very sophisticated manner. In works such as Harvesting Corn, Lower Lough Erne, the effect on the viewer is one of an immediate sense of ease and liberation, united with an amused contentment with the sheer pleasure of existence. 
Although his paintings explore a vast array of subject matter, Cunningham often returns to his most known and loved scenes. Vibrant poppy drenched cornfields, setting suns, moonlit harbours and Galway hookers are leavened by his luminous depictions of rolling beaches, men harvesting the land and other similarly timeless interpretations of country life - placing him perfectly in the traditional idea of the Irish painter. 
Willie Cunningham, appreciated by critics, collectors and the general public, has already done enough to earn himself a secure position as one of Ireland’s most successful artists. With a career spanning twenty years, Cunningham has exhibited in the Tom Cromie Gallery (Belfast), the Oriel (Dublin), the Eakin Gallery (Belfast) and many others. His work can be seen in the collections of Ulster Bank, Gallagher Group and the Department of the Environment. As a visual experience, this exhibition is much more than just pleasing to the eye. These paintings are, quite simply, expressions of delight at the artist's world. 
Willie Cunningham lives and works on the outskirts of Belfast in the north of Ireland. His work can be seen in Oisín Gallery throughout the year.


-Antoinette L. Sinclair

Paintings in the exhibition