Tuesday, 28 December 2010



 As I walk to Gimpel Fils the snow, which earlier had been floury and fluffy, has turned into pellets the size of pine nuts which settle on my faux fur coat. I see Irvin’s work every day because one of his prints, Merrion, lights up our living room.  When I met the artist some years ago at a Caroline Wiseman Gallery party, I asked him if Merrion was a Welsh name.
 ‘No, Irish,’ he said, ‘I named it after a Dublin Square I walked across every day when I had an exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Society and was living at Trinity College.’
A young man with a shaved head came up to us. He said he’d just bought one of Irvin’s paintings (not, like me, a mere print).  Irvin asked him ‘What do you do to keep the wolf from the door? ‘
 ‘I write software for banks'.
Irvin turned back to me, ‘As your husband is a man of the cloth, I can tell you a story I don’t often tell. There’s a Welsh clergy couple who are convinced I’m sent by God. I said I wouldn’t go that far, but they say ‘We love the energy and colour and beauty and vitality in your paintings. They remind us of what the world can really be like, what’s there if we have the eyes to see'.
Inextinguishable, acrylic on canvas. 214 x 305 cm  
A catalogue quotes  Henri Bergson's version: What was mobile and frozen in our perception is warmed and set in motion. Everything comes to life around us…we feel ourselves uplifted, carried away, borne along by it. We are more fully alive…’ .

 So I’m standing on a frosty morning in Gimpel Fils in Mayfair. There’s no one there. Even the office/reception is behind a split wall. But the place is a riot of energy. Spectacular paintings are exploding round the room on the pale walls, changing, becoming, moving, growing . Irvin gave up painting big canvases some time ago but here he is back again. It looks like the work of an extraordinary young energetic artist who is truly in love with painting. He has no assistant and has to rely on his own muscle power. It took three months to paint.
Back at the party I went to a few years ago, the gallery owner joined us and announced to Irvin that in New York she could sell anything done by the YBAs (Young British Artists).She smiled and said ‘Shall I turn you into one?’
Irvin is eighty eight years old, but the spirit within him is truly inextinguishable.

www.telegraph.co.uk › News › Obituaries 
Paul Moorhouse in his Albert Irvin: life to painting said that  'walking into a room of Irvin’s paintings is like entering a crowded restaurant where you immediately sense the atmosphere – lively, celebratory- but where do you sit? That’s the moment you’re drawn in…'
Mary Rose Beaumont: Albert Irvin: the complete prints 
Fiona Maddocks; article in the Royal Academy magazine (Winter 2010)  ramagazine.org.uk


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