Jack B. Yeats: Rogues, Sailors and Circus Performers, Friday 8 October – 18 December 2010
Millennium Court Arts Centre is delighted to present a diverse selection of oil and watercolours drawn from The Niland Collection, Sligo, by one of the most important figures in the visual art of Ireland during the 20th century.
Jack B. Yeats’ artistic output reveals a fascination with characters that lived on the margins of society – those who in his own words had “something of the living ginger of life in them.” Over a career spanning seven decades, Yeats repeatedly drew and painted the tramps, travellers, circus performers, drunks, sailors and gypsies that populated his youth in Sligo. These characters are often represented as lone figures in scenes that set them apart from the rest of society.
This exciting exhibition examines Yeats’ themes and techniques that he developed throughout his career. Yeats had a particular interest in the people and rituals of everyday life, painting street sellers, sailors, funerals, travelling fairs, circuses and the races.
We can see this interest emerging in his early watercolours and develop in his late period works in oil for which he is most celebrated. As Hilary Pyle has pointed out “Yeats continued to look back to the themes of his watercolours when painting his late oils, where memory played a major part in his conceptions. Simple images are repeated after an interval of forty years…tinkers, tramps and pirates…people Yeats’ canvases of the forties, their energy and colour contributing to the colour and fire of the late oils, their more vulnerable aspect being explored as they are revealed on occasion as ‘everyman.’”