Cormac O'Leary, Artist

                                                               Cormac O'Leary


                                                                                             'To snatch from time the passionate transitory...' 

                                                                                                                                                        -Patrick Kavanagh


                                                                                           Self portrait 2009,

                                                                                           Oil on canvas,

                                                                                           33 x 25 inches 


Cormac O'Leary was born in Cork City, Ireland in 1969. His family moved to County Sligo in 1974. His father John O'Leary (1929-1999)  was a much respected artist and teacher. Encouraged by his father, Cormac first exhibited his cartoons in a 'national cartoon exhibition' in Dublin in 1979. He studied art from 1987 to 1991 in Sligo Institute of Technology. In 1992 he lived in Barcelona, Spain, working briefly as an assistant electrician. While exploring the city he visited the Museo Picasso, the Tapies foundation and the Joan Miro Foundation. He was also fascinated by the magical Gaudi buildings. He travelled throughout northern Catalonia and up to the Southern French border compiling sketches and watercolours of his observations.  Reinspired to become an artist again, he returned to Ireland in 1993. He began working in various group studios with other local artists in Sligo. In the next few years he painted constantly, exploring various styles and themes in all media, including acrylics and oils, while also working part time as a theatre usher, art gallery assistant and bookshop cashier. He gradually began to exhibit his artwork locally and nationally throughout the 1990's, garnering positive reviews and generous supporters.  

He published numerous art reviews and conducted many interviews for the 'Mayo Arts Bulletin' and 'Arts West' magazines, also contributing art reviews to Circa magazine, Sculpture Society of Ireland newsletter, and the Sligo Champion. In 1998 he left Sligo to travel throughout Spain, again making numerous sketches in pastel, charcoal and watercolours on his trip. His first solo show 'Nightcrossing', launched in Sligo Art Gallery in March 1999, was based on his adventures from Barcelona through Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Madrid and on to Santiago di Compostella. It was a major success, most of the paintings selling before the opening night and led to another sell out exhibiton in The Hallward Gallery, Dublin in August 1999. 

Since then he has had over 30 solo exhibitons and many group exhibitions in Ireland, England and the USA. His paintings are represented in private and public collections in Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and Japan.  

He has won numerous art awards, including Milliken Bros ltd. Art Materials award, 2000, and Iontas Painting Award 2001.  

In 2008 he won third prize in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition for his collection of poems 'Signs on a whitefield' dedicated to his late father. He has also had poetry published in The Cormorant (Volume 1), The Cold Mountain Review ( Volume 26, No 2), Southward, (Volume 3, No.1) Southward (Volume 3, No. 2)  

He lives with his family in northwest Ireland, where he works from his studio.     



                                                                                  Cormac O'Leary working in his County Leitrim studio on the painting 

                                                                                  'After the Deluge' in 2013. 

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