James S Brohan
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James Brohan Artist
James Brohan Artist described as an established artist whose work would grace any wall. James Brohans style continues to evolve, exploring new subject matter and ideas. Born in Dublin in 1952 he studied painting and anatomy under the direction of Yann Goulet, RHA from 1985-86. His influence on James was to Look and observe, and he told Brohan If you cant see it you cant paint it thus an artist should be able to look and capture in his minds eye the subject, movement, colour, tone and feeling of what he is about to paint.
From 1986-1987 Brohan studied under Liam Treacy, who taught Brohan how to use paint in a colourful and loose impressionistic way. From these valuable teachers Brohans style has thus evolved over the years to be more colourful using the paint thickly, in impasto. Though his subject matter has remained similar, he still gets inspiration to paint any subject, whether it be still life, landscape, street scenes, horse fairs or market scenes, when I see it. He continued his studies at the Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design and later attended the National College of Art and Design, studying under Des Carrick, RHA. His inspiration comes directly from Ireland where you can capture everything an artist would want to paint, summer light, winter gloom, harbours, beach scenes and markets . Influenced by the work of the Irish impressionists such as Roderic OConnor, William Orpen, Walter Osborne, Frank McKelvy, James Humbert Craig, Sir John Lavery and Maurice Mac Gonigal, he admires their loose handling of paint.
His paintings are about colour rather than tone, and the essence of capturing the subtle nuances of light. He respects Osbornes treatment of light in the painting In the Park, NGI saying he captures the light in magical way, and admires John Butler Yeats painting of his daughter Lily, also in the NGI for his use of colour saying the white dress she is wearing has so many colours in it and yet, it still looks white. Due to increasing modernisation and an ever-changing Ireland his aim as an artist is clear, to record the times he lives in, capturing all that he can in a single stroke. A lot of what we have today will be gone, such as men wearing caps and small fishing boats in our harbours. His subject matter varies between landscapes and portraiture, and he does paint reoccurring themes once the inspiration to paint them is still prevalent, but the occasion to paint something new excites him due to the offer of a challenge and a new experience. In his figurative scenes he aims to capture a moment, a movement, but most of all an emotion so that the viewer can His works in either watercolour or oils worked up from sketches.
Like many impressionist painters he also uses photography but only, as he states in his own words, as a secondary back up. If working from photograph, Brohan feels it is important to paint from the memory and feeling one had whilst looking at the initial subject. The context of his work is both cultural and historical in that he is documenting a way of Irish life that is ephemeral, yet so too is he celebrating Irish culture, life and heritage. His paintings and style are timeless documents reflecting a way of life, in a style that has its roots firmly placed in Irish impressionism. Empathise or react to the subject. He is particularly fond of harbour scenes due to the opportunity to put the excitement of movement, light and reflection you get in the water onto canvas.
INT.BA, MA, Mlit, Curator of Eileen Gray Exhibition NMI