Hughie O'Donoghue: Painting, Memory, Myth

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9781858942049: Hughie O'Donoghue: Painting, Memory, Myth

Contemporary artist Hughie O'Donoghue has long been fascinated by war - not the grand military moments depicted in 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, centring on 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, in a manner that recalls the work of O'Donoghue's contemporaries Anselm Kiefer or Miguel Barcelo. The story of the individual thereby becomes the story of everyman - a story at once intimate and anonymous. In this, the first major study of one of Ireland's most engaging artists, the themes of history, memory and identity are movingly explored.

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