Louis le Brocquy
Born in Dublin in the year of the Easter Rising, 1916, Louis le Brocquy bears a name of Walloon origin. A self-taught artist, he was trained as an industrial chemist before departing for Europe in 1938 to study the great masters. 'Alone among the great artists of the past', he says, 'in these strange related cities I became vividly aware for the first time of my Irish identity to which I have remained attached all my life'. Louis le Brocquy's own words in an interview with George Morgan best sum up his approach to the head image: 'clearly, it is not possible to paint the spirit. You cannot paint consciousness. You start with the knowledge we all have that the most significant human reality lies beneath material appearance. So, in order to recognise this, to touch this as a painter, I try to paint the head image from the inside out, as it were, working in layers or planes, implying a certain flickering transparency. What one is left with at the end - if I am in any way excited by the image that emerges - is the suggestion of some turbulence going on beneath the picture surface, beneath the external appearance of the image....a mouth isolated on the canvas and freed from the context of the face is apt to appear abstract, an abstract hole within the surface of a minimalist painting. But this is not my purpose. You could well interpret my image of an open mouth, isolated at the centre of a canvas, as a cry, or a scream, or an expression of outrage. Look about you. It is all that! But it may be seen, too, as a way within. Yes, for me, the open mouth, the slit of a closed mouth, the deep dent of the navel, the eye, the ear are seen primarily as seolective openings with the body-s opacity - entrances into darkness or into that which is not visible, the reality of the interior being, the 'other side'. as you call it'.