Signed Fitzharris, ’83 William English Bequest
Mike Fitzharris studied art in his native city, Limerick, and at the Hochschule für Bilden Kunst in Berlin. He taught art briefly in Killorglin, County Kerry, before moving to Malaga in Spain where he is now based. His work has always been concerned with landscape but increasingly in an abstract language, with the occasional more explicit figurative element finding its way in, and informed by an aerial viewpoint. Fitzharris has said that while he usually begins a painting with a sense of how it is going to finish up, he likes to allow for chance and spontaneity to play a part in his process. That quality was picked up by the art critic, Hilary Pyle in 2000, when she admired his intuitive approach and his tendency to wait for materials to guide him. Art historian Frances Ruane liked his mastery of tone and texture. His contemporary in LSA, the painter and writer Samuel Walsh (see Page ???) has written that Fitzharris’ ‘… work is grounded in landscape. The pictorial perspective is invariably aerial which creates a tunnel view that the audience enters into visually. Paint is usually scratched into the surface and lines and shapes swirl as if controlled by natural forces. The colour is often Mediterranean in hue and he favours rich yellows, orange, vibrant greens and blues. Occasionally industrial or sensitive environmental circumstances are chosen as subject matter.’ ( http://wexfordcountycouncilartcollection.com/mike-fitzharris/ accessed 27/8/2018.)Fitzharris has shown his work in Ireland at the inaugural EV+A exhibition in Limerick in 1978, at the RHA where he was awarded the Taylor De Vere prize in 1990, and at the Oireachtas. Solo shows of his work since the early 1990s have been held at the Oriel Gallery, Hillsboro Fine Art, and Jorgensen Fine Art galleries in Dublin, as well as the Vanguard Gallery in Cork. Other awards include the Open Exhibition Award at the Éigse Festival in Carlow in 1997 and 2003, and the Royal Ulster Academy Award which he won in 1999. Outside Ireland he has shown in exhibitions in Canada, France, Slovenia, Wales, Belgium and England. This is a relatively early work by Mike Fitzharris. While this is still a figurative seascape, the flashes of strong colour against an overall silvery tonality and the fluid and loose deployment of paint are elements that were to feature increasingly in his work. Typically, Fitzharris savours the play of light on the wet sand and is not drawn to the more dramatic aspects of the sea. Claremont Strand is a small, but popular beach near Howth in North County Dublin.