Hughie O'Donoghue

Biography of Hughie O'Donoghue

Hughie O’Donoghue (born Manchester, 1953 of Irish decent) is considered one of the leading painters of his generation due to his remarkable mastery of depicting the past. The discoveries events, places and memories from the past, such as his mother’s childhood home in the Irish countryside, or his father’s experience in World War II, have influenced his work. He frequently elaborates on these anecdotes by combining rich, expressionist colors and a thick, heavy application of paint, in a way reminiscent of American Abstract Expressionism.


Recurrent in Hughie O’Donoghue’s body of work is a technique of overlaying, which involves painting over historic photographs or documentary sources. Through juxtaposing different materials and ideas in this manner, O’Donoghue’s works go back to a certain memory or historic moment. Be it his own memories from the stark Irish countryside, or memories of (often quite dark) periods in history. With many of his works addressing themes of war, O’Donoghue has been represented in war museums throughout the world, most famously London’s Imperial War Museum.


Characteristic of Hughie O’Donoghue’s practice is his respect for historic methods of painting, and the emphasis he places on drawing and planning in the making of a painting. Today, the artist continues to work in his London studio, creating limited edition canvases which resonate with emotional intensity.


Hughie O’Donoghue has had numerous solo exhibitions across a number of important institutions such as the National Gallery in London, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Holland, and Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Shortly after graduating from the prestigious Goldsmiths art school in 1982, O’Donoghue became involved in artist-in-residency programs at the National Gallery and at St. John’s College at the University of Oxford. To mark the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012, O’Donoghue was selected to design a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey.

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