Patrick Graham Ire/Land Iii

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Patrick Graham “Ire/land III” he painted in 1982 and was later bought by the Gallery that year; it is a oil on canvas (183x122cm). The painting it self is hung in the Irish political wing of the Hugh Lane Gallery. The painting is high in saturated colours, it is very vibrant and has very strong bold colours such as: oranges, greens, browns, blues, reds and yellows so it has a broad range of hues.

Since the room this painting was hung in is very bright with artificial lights the painting stands out stronger against the white background (the wall) and since it is not in a glass frame you can clearly see straight away his use of impasto, this is were he layers the paint thickly straight on to the canvas. His use of Impasto can be seen almost emerging from the figure and spreading like a vine thought out the painting, down towards the shamrock and up out of the figure into the mass of colours in the top background.

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In splash of colour across the top of the painting are the colours if the Irish flag oranges, greens and white, the brush strokes look very disjoined, almost panicked with smoky edge’s which gives it quite a soft background with a very hares white foreground. These colours are very strong in comparison to the grey figure which lye’s flat across a tall black alter.

The painting appears to be full of geometric shapes which makes this painting symmetrical, with a rectangle with in a rectangle, it is divided up in to grids almost, with the stem of the shamrock creating a divider vertically between both half’s of the painting while the figure in the background creates another horizontal line through the painting as do the six figures in the foreground. The centre rectangle is a large sinister, mostly black alter which takes up most of the painting. It appears to have dominance over all other elements of the painting.

This avoids confusions and creates a kind of harmony with in the painting as all other aspects of the painting are either connected or revolve around this. This alter also creates a lot of angular lines with gives a threatening impression. As this painting is quite a political painting and I think the sinister impression you get from it is quite appropriate as it shows a fragile Bobby Sands dieing on a large black alter which is meant to be his death bed in the centre of turmoil, a background full of chaos.

But I love how Patrick Graham managed to show Bobby Sands vulnerability of being a human by portraying him dreadfully weak, thin and naked but managed to give him back his dignity by covering him up moderately with a large cloth. He also portrays Bobby’s will power by painting him with an outstretched arm which is reaching out towards the overly large shamrock, which is in the centre of the composition and is a symbol for his beloved country, this is meant to show everyone that Bobby was willing to die for his country as we can see clearly that his blood trickles down the top leaf of the shamrock.

Unfortunately he died two months after this painting was painted. This painting is full of symbolism as we can clearly see that the Irish flag is painted across the top of the painting of the figure of Bobby Sands, while the shamrock is a symbol if Ireland and the three figures on the lower right hand side of the painting are all republicans and the centre one is that of Wolf Tone.

While the three figures on the left hand side of the painting are all religious figures, the stem of the shamrock is there to high light and divide the difference of option that these two groups the republicans and the church had had at the time on this political issue. Across the bottom of the painting there is a large amount of text which reads “AH SWEET JESUS THIS IS ANOTHER WAY TO LOVE . . . AND I UNDERSTAND” as it was written in capital letters it makes it a stronger and more bold statement while also being in white helps it to stand out from the background as the background is incredibly dark in comparison.

Patrick Graham is an Irish artist who was born in Mullingar Co. Westmeath (1943). He studied, as a student in the Nation College of Art and Design (NCAD) for four years at a very young age of just sixteen. He then went on to have numerous solo and group Exhibitions such as Rutberg Fine Art, Los Angeles, Emmet Gallery Dublin and Irish Art- the European Dimension, RHA Gallery Dublin. Later on in his life we see he has won many awards such as President’s gold medal Oireachtas exhibition and Independent Artists award for painting of outstanding merit.

During this period Graham’s work was referred to by critics as Neo Expressionists, he was one of a number of artists from Ireland who’s work was classified as this style such as Patrick Hall, Anita Groenen and Brian Maguire. I find most of Patrick Grahams work to be filled with suffering, tragedy, pain and death while all his paintings are filled with meaning and compassion like and Ire/land III being a perfect example of this. There appears to be a huge contrast between Patrick Graham’s earlier work and his later work.

He has gone from painting largely complicated symbolised painting to a more light soft emotional style of painting. He no longer paints on torn up canvas but instead he compiles large amounts of drawings, collaged together out of scratchy sketches. This style of work he is working on at the moment looks like it is a large pile of drawings stitched together after some long nights filled with vivid dreams. He uses light soft media to create his pieces instead of rushed powerful brushstrokes and this can clearly be seen the head on the left hand side of the piece.

This piece is from one of Patrick Grahams many collections this one in particular happens to be ‘Patrick Graham, Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin, 20 May – 4 June 2005’. It is called ‘Self-portrait, mixed media on board, 75 x 112 cm; courtesy Hillsboro Fine Art’;’ We can see clearly his use of pencil and pen to create a sketchy but realist face, which is meant to be a self portrait. We can clearly see his Dominican features such as his moustache, his receding hair line and his overly large eyebrows. He seems to be turned in a three quarter profile view.

But it appears his body has disappeared below the neck line and the only other visible part of his body is his newly deformed plump red bloody arms. These seem to be rawer, less delicate, less carefully executed then his head. There appears to be letters with in Patrick Grahams chest they are very spaced out so you must look closer at the piece to make out clearly what it spells, which to me looks like it spells “self zoo! ” and then through out the piece you can see small letters forming, like above his left arm there is a stream of letters which are unfortunately to small to read.

Graham has created a wonderful piece which is much more emotional then ‘Ire/Land III’ as Patrick Graham has managed to draw the viewer into the piece. He has managed to create emotion with in this painting by placing himself in it but his use of colours had made the viewer vary as the red symbolises danger, like this woman has something to hide. Since Graham choose to colour his head grey this could indicate that he sees himself as a dull boring person in comparison to this vibrant woman. The figure on the right hand side of the piece is very vivid, it seems to be a naked woman handing upside down.

He has decided to completely ignore the rules of anatomy to create this deformed image of a woman. This is a very explicate piece as the woman’s genitalia is showing. She has been created in a deformed way just like Patrick Graham him self with stumped legs and small, weak string like arms. Unlike Patrick Graham she has no neck but her chin grows out of her chest and she has been drawn with a vast amount of red hair. This almost looks like its bleeding down out of the piece like her life force is draining slowly away.

As there is a divider line between both of the figures this could mean that Patrick Graham is trying to push this woman figure away or else he is trying to create a distance between them and because he is looking away from this woman with his eyes cast downwards it could show that he wants nothing to do with her at all any more. But this movement of his head creates a false perspective within the piece as it gives the impression that the woman is further away from the foreground then you originally imagine.

Patrick Graham is a man of many talents, which even today he is known as one of the many great Irish artists, his use of strong outlines, his many strange figures, dramatic contrasts between his past and present work, he has managed to create a strong emotional feeling in all of his work which can clearly be seen, and he has managed to focus the viewers attentions to the main figures, and his use of symbolising certain main aspects of his pieces are not to be forgotten easily. He has managed to depict a story and emotions in his work creating an ever lasting image in our memories.

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Patrick Graham Ire/Land Iii. (2018, Feb 25). Retrieved from

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