The biggest award in Irish contemporary art – The Savills Arts Prize – has been won by one of the country’s most noted living artists, Patrick Graham, from Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
The €5,000 Savills Art Prize is awarded to the artist who has produced an outstanding body of work in the last year or made some other substantial contribution to the visual arts in Ireland.
The winner was announced from a shortlist of five contenders at Vue 2016, Ireland’s national contemporary art fair, at the Royal Hibernian Academy.
The other four contenders were Ennis artist Mick O’Dea, Lisburn’s David Crone and Dublin-based duo Gavin O’Curry and visual artist Jaki Irvine.
“It’s a tremendous honour to receive this award, and I’d like to commend Savills and the organisers for their efforts in promoting Irish contemporary art,” said Mullingar man Patrick Graham.
“I’d also like to thank the Luan Gallery in Athlone and Hillsboro Fine Art for my recent successful exhibitions.”
19 of Ireland’s leading contemporary art galleries each nominated an artist for the prize and RHA director Dr Patrick Murphy, who has an extensive track record as a curator of contemporary Irish art, adjudicated.
“I am thrilled to award the VUE Contemporary Art Prize to Patrick Graham for his outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Ireland”
said Savills Ireland Chairman, Roland O’Connell.
“At Savills we celebrate creativity in the community and are proud to support this significant event for Ireland’s leading artistic talent.”
Patrick Graham, who has been described as one of the few modern contenders to take a place among the great masters, was nominated by the Hillsboro Fine Art gallery where he completed the ‘Lullaby’ series.
This series of paintings includes previously unseen works by Graham, including a new self-portrait of the artist.
Graham has had significant influence on the Irish art scene and is credited by some as changing the face of Irish art in the 1980s with his introduction to neo-expressionism.
A member of Aosdána, Graham’s exquisite draftsmanship and expressive layering of images and text have seen him widely regarded as one of Ireland’s most important contemporary artist. The subject of numerous international museum exhibitions and symposia, he has impacted artists, critics and historians on both sides of the Atlantic.
Internationally acclaimed art historian and professor of art history Peter Selz has stated:
“With the exception perhaps of Anselm Kiefer, Patrick Graham is the only twentieth century artist who can take his place among the great masters spanning the Renaissance to the present day.”
Hillsboro Fine Art gallery director John Daly said:
“Graham has long been considered ‘Ireland’s finest draughtsman’ and a genuine ‘artist’s artist’, but these much-abused terms, though undoubtedly apt in relation to Graham, do not capture the truly powerful nature of his work.
“His paintings and drawings are a magnificent and unique balancing act of strength and fragility.”
Galleries exhibiting work at Vue 2016 included Kerlin Gallery, Cross Gallery, Molesworth Gallery, Stoney Road Press, Hillsboro Fine Art, Green on Red, Eight, Peppercanister, Graphic Studio, Fenderesky, Kevin Kavanagh, Gallery of Photography, Solomon, Olivier Cornet, Gormleys, Jonathan Ellis King, Gibbons and Nicholas, Oonagh Young Gallery, and Art Box.
“This is only the second year the Savills Art Prize has been presented at Vue and we hope the award will become as important to Irish art as the Turner Prize is in the UK,” said Vue 2016 organiser, Louis O’Sullivan.
“Savills is the perfect partner to present the Prize as most art is found in homes and businesses, and not just museums.”