Lorcan Walshe, without a single doubt, is a living icon (born in 1952), he attended Sligo School of Art, Sligo R.T.C. and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in the 1970’s – when Modernism was fading and Post Modernism was incubating like a wet dream in the minds of American academics and European opportunists. In the 1980s, when the arms race was insanely out of control, he organized and curated an exhibition by Irish artists on Nuclear War – Walshe also involved Russian artists in this project and traveled to Moscow where he persuaded the Soviet Government to allow their work to be shown in Ireland alongside that of the Irish painters. Walshe held his first solo exhibition in 1982 and has had numerous exhibitions since then.

In 1994, he held an exhibition entitled Paradise Lost in Warrington Museum, England as an act of sympathy towards those who were killed and injured as a result of an I.R.A. bombing in Warrington. That exhibition then toured to Denmark and the Czech Republic and was awarded the European Kaleidoscope Award. In 2007 - 2008 Lorcan Walshe had an exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland entitled The Artefacts Project. This exhibition explored indigenous Irish art from the Middle Ages through the language of contemporary painting. He has also had many solo exhibitions in commercial galleries and shown in group exhibitions in the USA, France, and England.

"I became an artist when I realized that I had an artist’s soul." 

When asking about his childhood and his first piece of art, Lorcan Walshe kindly replied: "My childhood was seriously dysfunctional - alcoholism, violence, and religious fundamentalism ... I can vaguely recall the drawings I made in childhood. However, the first piece of ‘art’ I made was probably when I was 10 years of age. My paternal grandmother was a tyrant, relentlessly inflicting emotional pain on my mother, and no one dared challenge her. I painted a large coffin on my bedroom wall and wrote beneath it 'Granny is dead, at last.' "  

His artistic journey ever since has shaped into defiance, darkness, and beauty. Painting for him is a continuing search for an understanding of being alive. When he works directly from observation, such as painting a portrait, light is more important than color. When he is not working from observation, when he is working from his inner self, colors become more important than lights.

"As a young insecure artist, I equated ‘success’ with ‘prestige’ – now I equate success with consciousness and spiritual freedom."

Lorcan Walshe has a wonderfully honest insight of who he is– extraordinarily sensitive and able to concentrate deeply on an idea that comes from within and turns it into something unique that excites the senses. When asked what’s the advice he would give to the next artistic generation, his response was, "Put on the show you want to see." Lorcan Walshe’s work does not aim to challenge anyone or anything– he makes the paintings and drawings that he needs to see. He does not expect anyone to experience his work as he visualizes it, but when it happens, he is surprised and grateful. That kind of devotion and focus is truly what makes an artist.

Q. Who are your biggest influences?
A. Velasquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Morandi, Giacometti to name a few…

Q. Are there any particular painting traditions that have influenced your work?
A. Neolithic art, Italian Renaissance and indigenous African and Irish Artefacts.

Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art? 
A. My sense is that creativity is essentially spiritual and so exists beyond the reach of the intellect. Creativity is often imprisoned by philosophies and beliefs. Where painting is concerned, I have little interest in the  ideas or concepts of art historians, curators or commentators - I am interested in how a painting is made and the presence a painting possesses. 

Q. Apart from making art, what do you love doing?
A. Books, writing, music, cinema, food and travel.

Q. What do you dislike about the art world?
A. Much the same as Sarte: “Hell is other people.”


Artist Lorcan Walshe in his Dublin studio.

By Photographer/ videojournalist Bryan O'Brien