Portmarnock’s ex-pilot Fergus will fly high at Art Source Fair

by Rose Barrett
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A former Aer Lingus pilot who has taken off as one of the country’s top representational painters, will be showcased at Ireland’s premier art fair – Art Source at the RDS.

Award-winning Portmarnock-based artist Fergus A Ryan once jetted around the world but now devotes much of his time to finely detailed portraits and landscapes.

His work has been exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts and has been included in the Government of Ireland’s State collection.

Ryan’s portrait, ‘Rain on the Wind’ won the Friends of Royal Hibernian Academy Award for a Senior Artist in 2020. His egg tempera portrait ‘Harold’ was exhibited at the National Gallery of Ireland in the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016 finalists exhibition.

Ryan got a first-class honours degree in Theology after retiring and began painting professionally in the 2000s after a lifetime of drawing and sketching, he was a regular visitor to the great art museums of New York, Boston and Chicago during his career with the national airline.

He further attended workshops and summer schools in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, Norway and Italy to develop his skills.

Cathedral, oil on linen (60 x 80 cms) by Fergus A Ryan captures a timeless and transcendent moment at the Blasket Islands, by Fergus A Ryan will feature centrally at Ireland’s premier art fair – Art Source at the RDS – from Nov 11-13.

Ryan’s subject matter includes objects, buildings, animals, places and portraits and his instructional YouTube video on how to paint with egg tempera has over 120,000 views. His portraits attempt to capture hidden thought and emotion.  

“It is the very inaccessibility of those thoughts that creates a certain detachment I strive for. Most of my subjects are in their own private world, looking away,” said Fergus.

“As a realist painter, I face a certain difficulty: the all-too-obvious tangible presence of the subject. But beyond sight or touch, a deeper reality is mediated by the slightest gesture or effect, a trace, the shadows of private thought, or a left-behind-ness suggesting some absence, some myth revealing a partly-seen truth. 

The Departure of Oisín, oil on linen (130 x 95 cms) by Fergus A Ryan.
The painting is part of a series inspired by the romantic poetry of WB Yeats.

“The inspiration may be, at its birth, a mere ‘whim’ or wisp, a wistfulness or yearning, a sense of incompleteness. Yet the place at which artist and viewer first converse is the reality of the visible subject itself,” he said and added: “This phenomenon is often minutely explored in my work in anticipation of a glimpse of what endures forever,” he said.

Over 15,000 people are expected to attend Art Source – the year’s biggest and most exciting art show – from November 11-13. It will feature the best in contemporary Irish and international artists and galleries.

Irish art lovers also have the unique chance to get their hands on 100 pieces of original artwork for €100 each on a first-come, first-served basis on the opening morning of the show on Friday, November 11.

This year’s Art Source showcases painting, sculpture, photography, illustration, prints and ceramic art.

“Art Source offers visitors the opportunity to purchase a one-off affordable original artwork to make their home unique and also the opportunity to meet the artists and hear about their work,” said show organiser, Patrick O’Sullivan. “The event is where the industry meets to see what is going on in the Irish art world, and this year is our biggest yet, with the widest range of art styles anywhere in Ireland.

The show will also feature Source Your Own Art, a free children’s pop-up art workshop where youngsters are invited to express themselves creatively in response to the art they see at the fair. Art Source takes place at the RDS, Dublin, from November 11-13, admission is €10 adults, €8 OAPs. Children U-16 go free if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Openi: Nov 11: 11am-9pm, Nov 12 and 13: 10am-6pm. See Artsource.ie

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