John Sheehy

Studio Voltaire presents the first institutional exhibition of works by Irish born artist John Sheehy. This first comprehensive survey of his work is presented on a large–scale display system, allowing the presentation to change and evolve throughout the show’s duration.

Sheehy, who lives and works in London, began painting at the age of 51. Over the past 18 years he has produced a vast body of work that also includes printmaking, ceramics and sculpture in addition to playwriting, poetry and music. While in formal terms, his paintings range between portraits, landscapes and the purely abstract, they often foreground personal or biographical recollections, evoking the artist’s travels and his native Ireland.

Sheehy frequently returns to vernacular subjects that may appear folksy – donkeys, sailing ships, closely terraced houses and chimney sweeps – but when repeated across numerous works they become talismanic. Subjects may be rendered again and again over a period of weeks or months, only to be set aside in favour of a new focus. When viewed together, however, these series suggest Sheehy’s urgent need to capture or perhaps, expel these images.

The pace at which Sheehy produces work is extraordinary, and often is only limited by the availability of materials to hand including canvas, paper, roof tiles, window blinds and paving slabs. Even his largest paintings, some 10 by 20 feet in size, take less than an hour to complete. Sheehy has produced a staggering collection consisting of thousands of images and words which he considers as a single, total narrative.

Studio Voltaire presents several hundred works by Sheehy, many of which have never been exhibited before, using a bespoke display system especially commissioned from Simon Jones Studio to accommodate the many scales and mediums of Sheehy’s practice. Only a fraction of Sheehy’s 18 years’ practice will be on show at any point in the show’s duration. The first selection is made by Studio Voltaire’s Director Joe Scotland and Mark Amura of Crisis Arts, in conversation with the artist. Further selections will be made by Linsey Young (Curator of Contemporary British Art, Tate Britain),writer Amy Sherlock and artists Aaron Angell, Jeremy Deller and Clifton Wright.

Supported by the Studio Voltaire Benefactors.

About the artist:

Artist and writer John Joseph Sheehy (b 1949. Ireland) lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions in- clude: No Time for Tears, Outpost, London (2016); An Introspective, Atom Gallery, London (2015); Through My Hand, Outpost, London (2015); The Colours Choose Me, The House Gallery, London (2014); and Dreaming With My Eyes Open, Novas Gallery, London (2008). Group exhibitions include: Heretics: An Introduction to Outsider Art, Redwing Gallery, Penzance (2015); and Urban Networks, Courtauld Institute, London (2003).