'A strange and exotic presence in Irish Art', 'standing alone', 'very un-Irish'....were some of the adjectives used to describe Patrick Hennessy RHA (1915-80), one of Ireland's most successful realist painters in the post-war period. He was educated at Dundee College of Art and in 1937 won a scholarship to Paris where he worked for a time under Fernand Léger. He fused the Surrealist subjectivity he learned there with realism to create works unlike anything being made at the time. A prolific artist, he created portraits, landscapes, equine studies and still-lifes that found a steady market in Ireland, the UK and the USA. But he made other works showing human figures isolated in the landscape, male nudes and portraits of handsome men that puzzled critics who branded him 'something of an outsider'. At a time when people were persecuted for their sexual orientation, he made works containing narratives of homosexual life that align him with the queer-art movement which emerged in the 1970s.
This beautifully presented publication hopes to shed light on this critically neglected artist and reflect on what his work might mean to an audience today.