Here is a painting I did several years ago, at the Charles Cecil Studios in Florence. I had a friend named Gearoid who was from Ireland, and he asked me if I wanted to join him on a painting. I was glad to work with him, as he was a few years ahead of me in schooling.
Gearoid’s father had been a hurler for Ireland’s national team. Don’t know what hurling is? Suffice to say, a bunch of angry Celts running around a field with 2 x 4 planks of wood, smashing eachother in the face, occasionally hitting the ball. The ball resembles a baseball, only it is a piece of wood covered with leather. As a boy, when I lived in Ireland, I remember that you could pick out the hurlers champions in a crowd of people- they had no teeth, and their noses appear to be cartilage with loose pieces of bones floating around inside. What a great sport.
Gearoid says “Well, McEvoy, let’s paint a hurler.” And so I say “Sure, why not?” We set the model up, Gearoid worked on the left side of the model, and I worked on the right. Our two paintings were so different, it was remarkable. This was the first large painting I had ever worked on, so it was really new to me. It was really fun, and I enjoyed all six weeks of working on this painting. I didn’t go for the shattered teeth and broken nose route, because I didn’t actually have a busted up hurler to paint. As it was still in my schooling stage of painting, I wanted to concentrate on learning to paint what I saw, rather than painting something which was thematically true.
A lot of people, typically men, have really liked this painting, although the theme of Irish hurler does not pertain to America. The colours, dramatic lighting, clothing are all distinctly Irish. And so the problem is that I have an enormous portrait of an Irish hurler, and 99% of New Yorkers have no clue what kind of sport I’ve painted. I suppose it’s somewhat like bringing a painting of an Australian didjeridu musician to Paris- the cultural resonance isn’t so strong… The painting has to find it’s home somewhere in Dublin, maybe I’ll ship it in the near future.