Gerard Dillon

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Artist Bio

Gerard Dillon Gerard Dillon was a landscape and figure painter born in Belfast in 1916. He was educated at Raglan Street Public Elementary School and the Christian Brothers’ School but left at the age of fourteen to apprentice as a house painter. After several years at this profession, he attended the Belfast College of Art, but only for a few months, as he moved to London in 1934. Whilst there, he worked both as a painter and decorator, with all his earnings used to purchase art materials and visit galleries as a process of self-education.

Dillon first visited Connemara in 1939 with George Campbell, the trip provided a foundation of artistic inspiration from traditional Irish themes that Dillon would continually return to. It was around this time, he encountered the growing bohemian circle of modern Irish artists including Arthur Armstrong, Gladys Maccabe, Daniel O’Neill, and Basil Rakoczi. In 1942, Mainie Jellett opened Dillon’s first exhibition at the Country Shop, Dublin. Along with Daniel O’Neill, he exhibited at the Contemporary Picture Galleries, Dublin, in 1943. He regularly showed at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art, becoming a valued member of their committee. Throughout the 1950s, he exhibited in Ireland, England and America whilst still working as a house painter during the daytime. By the 1960s Dillon saw further international success, representing Ireland at the Guggenheim International, exhibiting in Paris and Rome, followed by shows in Boston and Washington, DC.

In James White’s book on Dillon, he wrote: ‘it is hard to imagine that any other artist ever got more out of his art than Gerard did. Through it he discovered the full joy of creativity.’  When Dillon died, the Arts Councils of Belfast and Dublin set up an exhibition of 104 works consisting of oil, watercolour, collage, tapestry, mixed media and etching.

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