Eamon Colman writes “Felim Egan was born in Strabane in 1952, he was always interested in drawing and from an early age showed promise, he went on to study in London He had early success representing Ireland in the 1980 Paris Exhibition. Here he showed a series of large paintings in mutated colour palette, for this show he incorporated the smaller square within a square, he went on to use this same format for the rest of his life. During this time he started using marble dust mixed with the colour, this infused his painting with a transparent texture. In Paris he won the UNESCO prize for painting, this brought him to the attention of the New York Metropolitan Museum of contemporary art where he is now in their permanent collection. One of Felim Egan’s quirks is that he always wore a striped hat, almost like a suit of armour. A man with a great sense of humor and a quiet display of warmth for his fellow artist he will be sadly missed.”
Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council said: “The Arts Council is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of renowned painter Felim Egan. The importance of his work as a unique, modernist voice in Irish painting has been demonstrated by his inclusion in numerous important collections and his participation in international events such as the Sao Paulo Biennale and the Biennale de Paris during the 1980s. His unique marrying of pure abstraction with soft, poetic tones and colours add a particularly moving element to his works.”
Born Ireland, 1952, Felim Egan studied in Belfast and Portsmouth before attending the Slade School of Art in London. He spent a year at the British School at Rome in 1980 before returning to Dublin. Since then he had lived and worked at Sandymount Strand on the edge of Dublin Bay. He was known as a painter of restrained eloquence, who sparingly deployed a vocabulary of hieroglyphic motifs over monochromatic expanses of colour. His paintings were built up slowly with layers of thin colour applied to the surface and stone powder ground into the acrylic. The work is universal in spirit and at the same time emotionally intimate. His paintings are epiphanic, in that they convey to us the essential nature or meaning of something of which we were previously unaware. He is an abstract artist, a painter of quite formal abstract images, and yet his work is tied to the place he lives and works, to the long horizons, big skies and empty sands of the Strand and sea. In this way his abstract paintings are almost landscapes, with a magical quality that his neighbour, the late poet Seamus Heaney, once aptly described as “a balance of shifting brilliances”. He had exhibited widely across Europe with 67 solo exhibitions since 1979 including major shows at the lrish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 1996 and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 1999. In 1981 he represented Ireland at the Xie Biennale de Paris and in 1985 at the San Paulo Bienal. In 1993 he won the prestigious UNESCO prize in Paris, and in 1995 the Premiere Prize at Cagnes-sur-Mer. His work hangs in numerous public collections including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; the Ulster Museum, Belfast; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the collection of the European Parliament. Major Commissions include; Dublin Castle; National Gallery of Ireland: O’Reilly Hall, UCD; Meeting House Square, Temple Bar; Pavilion Theatre, Dunlaoghaire; City Quay Building, Dublin; New Providence Wharf, London; the National Gallery of Ireland; Deutsche Bank, UK and Dublin and a large scale public ‘sculptural work’ at Cork Street, Dublin. In 2015 he completed an installation of paintings at Deutsche Bank Headquarters, Dublin.