live at the green mill-radio days


James Kieran McGonnell was born in Ireland, speaks with a lovely Irish lilt and has a keen affinity for most things Irish. And American.

He is highly influenced by artists hailing from his homeland, most notably Francis Bacon and Louis Lebroquay, both of whom emerged out of the post WWII art movement – the period known as Existentialism. He is also greatly persuaded by notable writers such as Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Jim Thompson and Virginia Woolfe, to name a handful.

So it’s not surprising that literature, history and art history all have an immeasurable effect on what he does. In fact, every one of McGonnell’s paintings is embedded with a rich history that is clearly evident.

History in the Making

Take “Red Herring” for example, in which circles reside within a square, a theme popularized in 50’s pop art and the work of American Color field painters, such as Kenneth Noland. The concept is a play on the idea of searching for something undefined. All the fish are in a regimented order depicting the routine and safety of everyday life. What will happen to them?

Red Herring

Red Herring

In “Once Upon a Spinning Time”  two dancers are  doing the jitterbug. The piece represents the first dance of Obama and his wife, Michelle, at the inauguration and evokes a snapshot out of the continuum in which you expect the future to have a certain and predictable outcome.

Once Upon a Spinning Time

Once Upon a Spinning Time

“After Dark My Sweet” is based on a Jim Thompson novel and a Yeats poem. The idea of moths drawn to a light conveys a sense of danger and the piece demonstrates the unpredictability of the future.

After Dark My Sweet

After Dark My Sweet

“Ghost Bike” is also based on a Yeats poem, conveying all the beauty in the world thus far, but that which cannot be experienced because it has passed. The bike is a symbol of the life of a person, the tragedy and beauty in history.

“A Pair of American Glasses” and “Live at the Green Mill – Radio Days” both symbolize American history– that which has long passed but stays with us forever.

A Pair of American Glasses

A Pair of American Glas

The Method to the Motive

McGonnell has spent the past 15 years transferring images onto canvas. His technique is intense and intricate. First, he designs the images in his head, instilled by the inspiration of poems, literature, a muse of history or a reaction to daily life and living.

The ideas are then transferred to the computer, and through graphic imaging and photography the piece begins to take on a very conceptual shape. Next, McGonnell hand draws the entire piece on canvas with a pencil.

Finally, he paints. Through a combination of air brush spray paint and hand painting, utilizing high quality products containing silicones and resins, the work evolves into the finished masterpiece.

kieran in studio1

There is no question that Kieran McGonnell is a prolific and disciplined artist. He has been painting constantly for many years, currently in his upstairs studio, and works with galleries and dealers both in New York and Chicago, where he currently resides. He also shows once a year in Ireland. He says this has been the toughest year to date –no small statement from a talented artist such as he.

To view the ArtistsinAuction website click here.

To view more of J. Kieran McGonnell’s work, click here.

kieran studio2