Delve Into the Art Scene of Dublin

While Dublin has long been associated with great literature, now its artists are taking a well-deserved turn in the spotlight.

Nov 23, 2009
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ICE bar at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin
ICE bar at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin
Photography Andrew Bradley
Local Ground—Gorse 1, 2003–2004. Bernadette Kiely. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Located in Reading Room.
Local Ground—Gorse 1, 2003–2004. Bernadette Kiely. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Located in Reading Room.
Photography Paul Sherwood
Cafe. William Crozier. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Hangs in hallway across from Seasons Restaurant.
Cafe. William Crozier. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Hangs in hallway across from Seasons Restaurant.
Photography Paul Sherwood
Ebb Tode, 2002. Louis Le Brocquy. Tufted by weaver V'soske Joyce. Tapestry hangs in the ICE Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin.
Ebb Tode, 2002. Louis Le Brocquy. Tufted by weaver V'soske Joyce. Tapestry hangs in the ICE Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin.
Photography Paul Sherwood
Tinajo and Isla de Graciosa. Tony O’Malley. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Located in Reading Room.
Tinajo and Isla de Graciosa. Tony O’Malley. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Located in Reading Room.
Photography Paul Sherwood
August,Ower (detail). Brian Bourke. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Painting hangs in the Hotel's foyer.
August,Ower (detail). Brian Bourke. Courtesy the Collection of John de Vere Whites and Barry Smith. Painting hangs in the Hotel's foyer.
Photography Paul Sherwood

The economic boom that transformed Ireland into the Celtic Tiger may be receding quickly into the past, but much of its legacy remains, including the vitality it breathed into the Irish art scene. Indeed, a host of talented artists and stimulating galleries have emerged over the past decade, and with them sophisticated new buyers with an eye for the edgy and adventurous.

Nowhere is this more evident than at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin, which houses a collection of modern Irish paintings and sculpture that has become a draw for locals and visitors alike.

Art consultant Frances Ruane, who put the collection together, says that capturing the variety and exuberance of contemporary Irish art was exactly the point. “It ranges from representational to abstract, from the really big figures of post-war Irish art, like Tony O’Malley or Louis le Brocquy, to those in their late 20s or early 30s who may be the stars of the future.” Among them is Gillian Lawler, who focuses on the urban landscape and whose two untitled paintings in the Hotel’s reading room are typically challenging and beautiful.

In the same quiet room warmed by an open fire is Bernadette Kiely’s lovely Local Ground–Gorse II. Kiely’s landscape painting sits gracefully between the abstract and the representational, and here the yellow gorse, as incorporeal as a flare, suggests both the impermanence and the durability of nature.

The Hotel’s ICE bar is altogether more modern and design forward. All marble, stainless steel and white tile, this cocktail bar of the moment is decorated with original works by 10 leading Irish artists, specially commissioned paintings that were then transformed into tapestries by some of Ireland’s leading craftspeople.

Frances Ruane says the public response to the collection has been “wonderful,” that there have been any number of offers from guests to buy this work or that.

Fortunately for visitors yet to come, the Hotel has no desire to break up a sparkling collection, though it will point enthusiasts in the direction of the top Dublin galleries, where more revelations await.


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