Good Friday Paintings

Since the early sixties, the late Tony O’Malley used to make a painting on Good Friday each year.  In 2006, these paintings were exhibited together in a special show in the St Ives Tate Gallery in Cornwall.  In his accompanying text, the curator Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith considers how these works continue to embody a primal image of suffering and redemption, whilst marking the celebratory rituals of faith in Western culture.I was really interested in the work of Tony O’Malley and I wrote my thesis on him for my degree in NCAD.   I particularly liked the painting above, Good Friday, 1966,  the contrasting colours and tortured shapes evoking the horror of the crucifixion, the bright red symbolising the blood shed in Christ’s sacrificial death.  Yeah, that was a quote from my thesis – it’s strange reading it now, eleven years later.  I seemed so sure of myself back then when I wrote that stuff.  I’m not half as sure now…  But Tony was a lovely man and I’ll always remember him.  He was very wise, I think.  “Painting is a mystery”, he said, ” like poetry.  Silence is important.  You have to listen.  It’s available to you, as long as you don’t presume.  You arrive at the work.  Don’t confront the painting, asking what it means.  Like the Chinese proverb – allow it to just be there on the wall, ticking like a clock…”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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