Signed Samuel Walsh William English Bequest
Samuel Walsh moved from London to Limerick in 1968. He studied at the LSA and on visits to London he became attracted to British and American Optical and Pop art. Apart from a similarity in their use of colour, however, his own highly abstract painting does not fit into those categories. He could be described as something of a pioneer of drawing for its own sake, and not merely as a stage on the way to a painting or sculpture. Walsh is almost as notable for his energetic support of fellow artists as he is for his artwork, acting as a toscaire of Aosdána, and involved in establishing and sustaining EV+A in Limerick in its early years, helping to set up the Collection of Contemporary Drawing in LCGA, through his critical writings, especially in Circa in the 1990s and by constantly lobbying for group exhibitions. Walsh’s paintings and sculptures are deeply abstracted from an initial source. He likes to play with the notion of perspective, of how we see the object, of the relation of the part to the whole and the object in relation to its background. This has led him to work in series, where the same form may be presented in different situations, spatially or in terms of colour and scale. Series include Fourteen Points of Entry (1990 – 1991, IMMA) and The Divine Comedy (2002–06).In addition to an MA in Fine Art, Walsh holds a diploma in philosophy. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Ireland, most notably The Coercion of Substance at Visual, Carlow, 2011, and around Europe and has been invited to participate in residencies in Berlin, Barcelona and other places.This splendid line drawing is unusual in Walsh’s work in the degree of representation it contains. It shows an eccentric, bohemian figure wearing a scarf that might as easily be a prayer shawl. The image is perfectly in keeping with William English, who befriended young artists and encouraged students by buying their work. What is striking here is the quality of the line drawing, the absolute clarity of the image and the artist’s determination to pay homage to his medium. Walsh once distinguished between drawing as ‘exploratory’ compared to painting which tends to be ‘arrogant’, but there is nothing tentative or exploratory about the lines that define this image. The artist recorded the precise time it took to do this portrait and notes the sittings in a neat grid at the bottom right of the work. What is of interest is the number of sittings of very short duration given to the process and the suggestion of humorous banter in the inscription (bottom left) that the work was done in the White House Bar, in Limerick City. The inscription reads “… and Alec Guinness and I,/Will walk between the/Bridges of eternity/ and call the population to us;/ Not for judgment but/ for drinks only.”William English, December 1977 in the White House.