The John Kingerlee Collection

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Biography

John Kingerlee was born in Birmingham, England in 1936. His Mother was related to Hogan's from County Cork and he was educated in a school run by the Marist Fathers. After living for twenty years in Cornwall in the far southwest of Britain, he moved in 1982 to an isolated farmhouse on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Ireland.

Whether by chance or design, Kingerlee's decision to 'go west', leaving behind a predominantly Anglo Saxon environment in preference for the wild scenery of Europe's most westerly shores, saw him following in the footsteps of the great Celtic Revival artists and writers of the early 20th Century, and just like his forebearers, he has found this place of rocks, seas and majestic skies where nothing is static, to be a source of continuous spiritual invigoration. In this setting, looking directly out from his home across Kenmare Bay to the ring of Kerry, John and his wife Mo lead a life which some might describe as lonely.

However, what they lack in human contact they make up for through an existence, which extends to growing their own vegetables in their organic garden. The Kingerlees' alternative outlook on life somehow seems to be in complete harmony both with the space they inhabit and with the art that flows from John's palette knife and brush.

A non-conformist at heart, John has turned his back on the traditional way of seeing and depicting landscape - as a series of parallel planes that are made to appear to recede from foreground to background by the artist’s manipulation of linear and aerial perspective. Recognising that perspective itself is a mathematical construct. John takes a different approach that is as radical as it is original. He states that he wants his art to recreate the experience of being in and moving through the landscape.

The challenge that faces John every day is one of making his paint reflect his experience of nature as a dynamic all encompassing unity that extends to Man and his inner thoughts and feelings. For John, engaging with nature is a multi-sensory experience of being supremely in tune with what is happening around, above and below him, of sensing geological time, the hardness or softness of the ground, the moods and colours of the sea. As if viewing it through holistic spectacles - as part of a larger whole that includes the winds, the tides and the ever shifting light.

In the studio, using his own made up pigments, he mimics the cycle of growth and decay by working with matter in a very direct and hands-on way. He applies colours, deep pools of it, red brick, reds, molten silver and zinc, platinum and titanium, sulphuric yellows and so much more to dozens of paintings in various states of becoming. He paints standing up applying a new layer of paint (finished paintings will comprise of fifty to one hundred or more layers of paint applied over a period of several years and when completed can take up to five months to dry out). His preferred tools are palette knives (one in each hand is the norm), and a decorator's brush which he holds vertically using a stippling technique.

Anyone privileged enough to watch, is struck by the analogy with gardening, for the artist tends his pictures with the same care and devotion. His mixed media, drawings, ceramics and collage are all handled with immense skill, for he loves to experiment and push his materials to their limits, right to the very edge. His work literally fizzles with energy as if seen through the eyes of a child creating friendly innocent like beings, goblins and animals from a cosmic world. Knowing the man and his art, one is impelled to conclude that Kingerlee has re-invented the pictorial landscape in a way that seems to have few, if any, parallels in contemporary art.