Gerard Dillon (1916-1971)
Figures in a Connemara Landscape
- Framed size: 30.3 x 31cm; Framed size: 48 x 48.7cm
- Oil on canvas
- Presented by the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland, 1977
Born in Belfast, Gerard Dillon left school at the age of fourteen and for seven years worked as a painter and decorator, mostly in London. About 1936 he started out as an artist, almost entirely self-taught. The outbreak of war in 1939 prevented his return to London, and over the next five years he developed as a painter in Dublin and Belfast. But despite a growing reputation, he had to return to London in 1944 to work on Demolition gangs to restore his finances. After the war he became more successful, and in 1958 had the double honour of representing Ireland at the Guggenheim International, and Great Britain at the Pittsburg International Exhibition. He travelled widely in Europe and taught for brief periods in the London art schools.
In 1968 he was back in Dublin, where he helped to design sets and costumes for O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock. From the beginning of his career, Dillon's art portrayed the rural and folk life of Ireland, soon concentrating on Connemara and the Aran Islands. While this was the hunting ground of many Irish painters, Dillon's approach was different in several respects. He was interested more in representing the people and their customs than in celebrating the glories of the landscape. And unlike many of his peers, the nostalgia he felt for the declining way of life was not expressed in a traditional style but in a voice owing much to European Modernism.
Dillon frequently made collages and prints from found objects. He was a member of the Dublin Painters Group and a committee member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art for twenty years. He lectured in NCAD and the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin. (From: Crawford Art Gallery website and nival)