Hughie O'Donoghue: Painting, Memory, Myth

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9781858942049: Hughie O'Donoghue: Painting, Memory, Myth
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Contemporary artist Hughie O'Donoghue has long been preoccupied by the experience of war and its legacy - not the grand military moments that formed the subject-matter of traditional history painting, but the story of the individual.
The starting-point for O'Donoghue has been an engagement with his father's experiences as an infantryman in the Second World War, in France, Britain, Italy and Greece. His work is centred on two main themes: his father's retreat from France through the port of Cherbourg in June 1940, after the evacuation of Dunkirk; and the advance in Italy in 1944, including the Battle of Monte Cassino.
O'Donoghue sees his body of work on the theme of war as "a visual equivalent of the Classical epic poem, with individual pictures functioning like chapters, verses, or lines". The analogy is carried through into the works themselves, many of which tell their often complicated story in a strikingly visual, semi-abstracted way through metaphor, symbolism and references that derive from ancient Greek mythology. The story of the individual, of the artist's father, thereby becomes the story of Everyman - a story at once intimate and anonymous. In this, the first major study of O'Donoghue's work, the themes of history, memory and identity are explored.

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About the Author:

James Hamilton is University Curator at the University of Birmingham.

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