Gerard Dillon, 'The Little Green Fields', c.1945.

Gerard Dillon (1916-1971)

The Little Green Fields, c. 1945

Oil on canvas, 40.5 x 89 cm
Bequeathed, Máire MacNeill Sweeney, 1987

From the Second World War onwards Gerard Dillon made regular visits to Connemara in the west of Ireland. Like many Irish artists before him, he was inspired by the stark but beautiful landscape of mountains, sea and lakes. He was also captivated by the simple and innocent lifestyle he found there. The pace of country life was slow, in marked contrast to that of urban towns and cities elsewhere in Ireland. This scene contains elements typically associated with the western seaboard: the distinctive dry-stone walls marking out each plot of land, the thatched cottages, the activities of the people, their farm animals. The present is united to the past by the inclusion of a small graveyard, the figure of the sculpted monk, the abbey ruins, the dolmen and the high cross. Dillon employs simple outlines, flattened forms and sharp colour contrasts that recall the art of the Celtic Christian period. In this way the notion of a timeless place is further reinforced.

Dillon's unsophisticated naïve style is particularly suited to the subject matter. It also reflects the fact that he did not begin to paint seriously until he was aged thirty. He was an active member of many art groups and represented Ireland at several international exhibitions.

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