Felim Egan (1952-2020) Internationally-acclaimed Strabane-born painter
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with regret of the death of the acclaimed Strabane-born artist, Felim Egan, who died in Dublin on Thursday 19th November.
Felim Egan was born in Strabane in 1952 and studied in Belfast then at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, before moving to Dublin, where he would remain and work as an artist. He exhibited throughout the world, with 72 solo exhibitions, including major shows in the 1990s at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He represented Ireland at the 1981 Xie Biennale de Paris and the 18th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1985), and his work hangs in numerous collections, including the National Gallery of Ireland and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1986 he was elected to Aosdána, the Irish association of artists whose work is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.
Egan was one of Ireland’s most respected abstract painters. Yet, as the artist himself has said, his painting is tied intrinsically to the long horizons, big skies and empty sands of Sandymount Strand and Dublin Bay, where he lived and worked. They are, in this sense ‘almost landscapes’, with subtle references and symbols adding layers of meaning and depth to the formal composition. As Seamus Heaney wrote in 1986, Egan was an artist with a ‘genius for filling the cleared spaced in his canvases and drawings and constrictions with the pressure of something withdrawn or withheld.’
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council paid tribute:
“In the last year we have sadly lost two of the most important painters to emerge from Northern Ireland in the early 1980s: first, Micky Donnelly and now his contemporary, Felim Egan. Both exhibited at the Arts Council Gallery in Belfast and both were key artists represented in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection. Felim leaves behind an exceptional body of paintings and major exhibitions, which earned him a place amongst that coterie of artists from these islands who have achieved a truly international status.”
Felim Egan’s remains were removed today from Quigley`s Funeral Home in Stabane for cremation in Lakelands Crematorium, Cavan.