J P Donleavy – A Singular Man – an author and his images

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From Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 27th November 2010
The Dollar Street Gallery, Cirencester is mounting an exhibition of works in pen and ink and watercolour by Irish American author and painter, J P Donleavy, dating from his days at Trinity, Dublin in the late 1940s to the present.J P Donleavy: Copyright Bobby HanvyJ P Donleavy: Copyright Bobby Hanvy There will be 67 works in the exhibition from 1965 to 2010 and the
remaining ten pieces date from 1950 to 1965. Prices range from £675 to £2,750.
They said get lostThey said get lost

They said get lost when I counter-offered, watercolour with pen and ink, 14 x 19 inches, c 1980 by J P Donleavy

Not widely appreciated is the fact that Donleavy began his artistic career in 1947 as a painter rather than as a writer. However, within a few years he found the medium of paint too restrictive for his purposes of expression and decided instead to begin his most famous book, The Ginger Man.
Donleavy’s elegant mastery of line and distilled humour place him in the pantheon of great draughtsmen. An intuitive association exists between Donleavy’s works and those of the Swiss artist, Paul Klee. As supremely poetic doodlers, both artists have relished the prospect of ‘taking a line for a walk’. Like Klee’s, Donleavy’s art playfully interweaves gaiety and grace – with some profound and disquietingly enigmatic overtones. His work as an
artist also has affinity with other entirely self-taught authentic outsider artists – those who lie beyond all conventional boundaries.
Donleavy’s are pictures by a philosopher of the human condition, observing (with mordant acuity) humanity in its infinite variety.
The paintings are ruthlessly incisive but yet charged with the artist’s compassionate understanding of human follies and foibles.
His art at once disturbs and enchants us with its fierce vitality and its singular sense of humour, which is sometimes outrageously macabre and sometimes deliciously deadpan.

(bf so) Deeply Purple Beastly Beatitude, watercolour, pen & ink, 16 x 9 inches, signed, c1975 by J P Donleavy

While one is moved by the reflective lyricism of his early works, it is the later work that carries a greater wit and pun – due to the quizzical host of creatures and characters he so idiosyncratically invented. It is these works, much sought after by collectors, for which he is now most famous as an artist. Such creations include psychedelically patterned fish about to swallow vibrant smaller fish; predatory priapic dogs on the prowl for worldly success;cautious spindly little birds let loose in a cruel universe; gross businesslike faces whose grimaces bespeak an attitude of proud urbane cynicism. And then there are the unforgettable studies of women whose inner delicacy may be belied by their massive forms and expressions. Due to Donleavy’s fame as a writer, their titles can be considered extensions of his comedic abilities on the page.
Born in 1926, J P Donleavy was educated in New York City and at Trinity College, Dublin. He now lives in a beautifully remote part of the Irish Midlands, where he still writes and paints, as he has done for more than 60 years. His most famous book, The Ginger Man was published in 1955 by The Olympia Press Paris, followed by A Fairy Tale of New York, The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar, A Singular Man, The Onion Eaters, etc.
This exhibition is staged in association with Damien Mathews Fine Art, Dublin.

Gallery hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 6pm

The Dollar Street Gallery
34-36 Dollar Street, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 2AN

Telephone 01285 651072  
Email [email protected]
Web site

Source: IONA PR

In the absence of the artist attending the show, the gallery is featuring a video of J P Donleavy sitting for his portrait by mother and daughter artists, Elizabeth and Phoebe Cope, at his Georgian estate in County Westmeath earlier this month to mark the occasion of his 84th birthday.

Source: IONA PR & Bill Dunn

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