Liam O'Neill was born in Corcha Dhuibhne, west Kerry, Ireland, 1954 and is among Ireland’s most celebrated contemporary artists. His paintings wonderfully obsess with the west coast. Harbours, musicians, horse fairs fishermen and famous figures. O’Neill pays particular attention to portraiture; using a palette knife he captures the essence of well known figures including James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.
O’Neill is interested in the nature of portraits and how a famous face can become broadly familiar and simultaneously depersonalized in the public eye. Through the process of looking and realizing these faces with paint, O’Neill re-introduces the humanity in these significant people. We see equal admiration and attention in a recent series of local musicians. O’Neill observes the people that make live music in the unique local pubs of west Kerry. He is struck by the passion of the musicians and humble manner in which they play. In his Irish tradition musician series, O’Neill achieves the difficult task of capturing two art forms, music and painting, in one piece. Liam O’Neill has lived in west Kerry all his life, when he paints scenes of Kerry his own relationship with the landscape appears time and time again. O’Neill describes his response to his home land; ‘I paint that which makes this area unique, the special views: Brandon, the Blaskets, and the three sisters. They are the backbone of the place, from which it takes its structure. They are powerful symbols. Then there are the fields, the walls, the people and the animals”. Liam O’Neill has exhibited widely for over the past 20 years including at the RHA, Oireachtas, National Portrait Exhibtion and Claremorris.