National Gallery of Ireland acquires photographic portraits by Kevin Abosch

Images © Kevin Abosch.

The National Gallery of Ireland has acquired portraits of Olwen Fouéré, Bob Geldof and Brian O’Driscoll, by Kevin Abosch.

Kevin Abosch is an Irish artist, based in Paris, who specialises in portrait photography, and counts many of the world’s most distinguished political and cultural figures among his sitters. His work will be familiar to many through his striking series of large-scale photographs which have been on display at Dublin Airport. Explaining the equal status afforded to recognizable and unfamiliar sitters in his work, he says: ‘each face, each citizen, contributes to the fabric of Irish society’.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland says: “These portraits are a very welcome addition to the National Portrait Collection which has been enhanced in recent years by portraits commissioned by the Gallery to showcase the work of practising artists.”

The portraits will be included as part of the Gallery’s, ‘New Portraits’ display, opening this Saturday, 14 December 2013, and will be displayed alongside other, recently acquired portraits of distinguished individuals, among them, Michael Scott by Norah McGuinness; Dr Anthony Cronin by Patrick Swift; two photographs of Samuel Beckett by John Haynes; a bronze head of Dr Bethel Solomons Senior by Sir Jacob Epstein; an oil portrait of Michael Longley by Colin Davidson, and a very moving image of the much loved Seamus Heaney, by Jackie Nickerson. Most of the works featured in this display have been specifically acquired for the National Portrait Collection. The exhibition continues until 9 February 2014. Admission free.


1. The Portraits
Olwen Fouéré, Actor, Writer, Theatre Artist, 2012.

Bob Geldof (b.1951), Musician and Political Activist, 2012.

Brian O’Driscoll (b.1979), International Rugby Player, 2011.

These three portraits were acquired by the Gallery in December 2013, and are part of Kevin Abosch’s ongoing series of ‘Faces’ which includes both well-known and anonymous individuals of various nationalities, ages and ethnicities. The project, begun several years ago, has been punctuated during its development by exhibitions in Ireland and abroad.

2. The National Portrait Collection
Portraiture has always been central to the National Gallery’s collection. As early as 1872, Henry Doyle (director from 1869-92) proposed the establishment of a national portrait collection within the Gallery. Later, in 1884, this collection was expanded to become the Historical and Portrait Gallery. It was described then as a celebration of ‘eminent Irishmen and Irish women… also of statesmen and others who were politically or socially connected with Ireland, or whose lives serve in any way to illustrate her history or throw light on her social or literary or artistic records’. Doyle’s vision continues to influence the manner in which the National Portrait Collection is developed and displayed. The collection today includes figures drawn from such diverse fields as music, theatre, literature, art and architecture, sport, public service and broadcasting. Portraits added to the National Portrait Collection in recent years include images of Bono, Gay Byrne, Ronnie Delany, Maeve Binchy, Brian Friel, TK Whitaker and Mary and Nicholas Robinson.

4. Exhibition:
‘New Portraits’ 14 December 2013 – 9 February 2014
Millennium Wing (Room 1). Admission free
This display brings together a number of portraits recently acquired for the National Portrait Collection. It includes images of sitters in a variety of media: paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography;

5. List of Works in Exhibition;
Kevin Abosch (b.1969)
Olwen Fouéré, Actor, Writer, Theatre Artist, 2012. Archival Pigment Print
Bob Geldof (b.1951), Musician and Political Activist, 2012. Archival Pigment Print
Brian O’Driscoll (b.1979), International Rugby Player, 2011. Archival Pigment Print.
Purchased, 2013

Colin Davidson (b 1968)
Michael Longley (b.1939), Poet, Editor, Anthologist, 2011-12
Oil on linen
Presented, 2012

Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
Head of Dr Solomons Snr (1885-1965) c.1955
Bronze with green patina
Bequeathed, Dr Bethel Eric Robert Solomons, the sitter’s son, 2012

John Haynes (b.1937)
Samuel Beckett, Royal Court Theatre, 1973
Gelatin silver print photographs
Presented, John Haynes, 2000

Norah McGuinness (1901 – 1980)
Michael Scott (1905-89), Architect, 1964
Oil on canvas
Presented in memory of Katherine Brady (d.2010), the sitter’s housekeeper and friend, by Brian Scott, 2011

Jackie Nickerson (b.1960)
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), Poet, Playwright, Translator, Nobel Laureate, 2007
Digital C-print
Presented, Phoebe Matson and Tom Gurry, 2012

Roderic O’Conor (1860 – 1940)
Presumed portrait of Paul Sérusier (1864-1927), Artist, 1895
Etching on paper
Purchased, 2012

Walter Osborne (1859 – 1903)
In the life class,1894
Graphite on paper
Purchased, 2012

Patrick Swift (b,1927 – 1983)
Dr Anthony Cronin (b. 1928), Poet and Literary Editor,1950
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 2010

John Butler Yeats (1839 – 1922)
Elkin Mathews (1851-1921), Publisher, c.1894
Graphite on paper
Purchased, 2010

6. Talks on NGI Acquisitions (free)
Sunday, 15 December, 3pm
Late Samuel Beckett, by Dr. Sam Slote, Trinity College Dubiln

Tuesday, 17 December, 10.30am
Seamus Heaney Portrait, by Jackie Nickerson, Photographer