When Martin Mooney left the University of Ulster in 1979 and took up his B.A. Honours Course at Brighton Polytechnic College of Art and Design, did he imagine he would be in the forefront of Irish Painters in the 21st century, spanning a period of nearly four decades.
By 1983, interest in Martin’s work had increased significantly and he then commenced his Masters at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. When award winning art critic of the year from the Evening Standard, Brian Sewell, began to appreciate and eulogize Martin’s very distinctive response to contemporary art trends (or even non trends), it simply mirrored what Martin’s tutors and professors at Slade had also found. It was “a revolt against the bucket and slosh brigade, against the kind of artist where painting is entirely abstract but entirely accidental.
It is almost like a new form of neo-classicism”. Brian Sewell Further recognition came with the Richard Ford Award from the Royal Academy in 1985 and the George Campbell Memorial Grant in 1987, followed by the Adams Salesroom Artist of the Future Award in the RHA in 1992.
Equally important however is that Martin’s recognition is also borne out in the real world of art gallery sales and auction room results. Between the years of 1988 and 2011, Martin held many solo exhibitions, in London and Dublin, with Offer Waterman at Waterman Fine Art, The Portland Gallery, London and The Solomon Gallery, Dublin.
Also, in 2007, in an unprecedented sale in James Adam’s Auction Rooms in Dublin Martin sold 73 of the 75 pieces available on the night, even before the show opened.
Martin’s landscapes are informed by his recent absorption in plein air composition which very finely augments the sense of atmosphere and presence in his new work. The billowing cloud formations and insertions of unexpected colour epitomize Martin’s new relationship with colour and form. From his contemplative outpost in rural Donegal, Martin has set out to reinterpret the Irish landscape for a new generation, at the same time, retaining his relationship with form whilst exploring atmosphere and mood with a new sense of fluidity and freedom. Likewise, in his Still Life paintings we continue to get Martin’s mastery of exactitude, his absence of figures, his absolute stillness.
But the reverence is replaced by the playfulness and joyousness of a man in the prime of his expression. That confidence can only come from an artist at ease with his powers, and for me the Still Life represent a wonderful addition to Martin’s continually evolving oeuvre.
1960 Born Belfast, Northern Ireland.
1979-80 University of Ulster, Faculty of Art and
1980-83 Brighton Polytechnic College of Art and
Design; BA Honours Fine Art.
1983-85 University College London, The Slade
School of Fine Art (Post Graduate).
1983 Emily Lucy Boyce Travel Scholarship,
Brighton Faculty of Art
1985 Richard Ford Award, The Royal Academy,
1987 George Campbell Memorial Grant, Arts
Council of Ireland, Arts of Northern Ireland
and the Spanish Cultural Institute, Dublin
1992 Adams Salesrooms Choice of Artist for
Future Appreciation Award, Royal
Hibernian Academy, Dublin
1997 Completed ten large paintings for the
Merrion Hotel, Dublin
2001 Appointed official artist for HRH The Prince
of Wales Royal Tour of the Baltic States
2003 Appointed official artist for HRH The Prince
of Wales Royal Tour of Russia
2017 Completed commission of 12 paintings for
house in Merrion Square.
2018 Loan exhibition Hillsborough Castle
Works in private collections in Australia, Canada,
Denmark, France, Greece, Guernsey, Hong Kong,
Ireland, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa,
Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA.
Solo Exhibitions Include:
Private Collections Include:
Corporate Collections Include: