Irish born, John Sheehy lives and works in London. After experiencing periods of homelessness , John began to paint in May 1999, aged 51. Early attempts revealed an enjoyment in conjuring imagery from imagination and memory. Over the past 18 years he has produced a vast body of work that also includes printmaking, ceramics and sculpture in addition to playwriting, poetry and music. While in formal terms, his paintings range between portraits, landscapes and the purely abstract, they often foreground personal or biographical recollections, evoking the artist’s travels and his native Ireland.
Sheehy frequently returns to vernacular subjects that may appear folksy – donkeys, sailing ships, closely terraced houses and chimney sweeps – but when repeated across numerous works they become talismanic. Subjects may be rendered again and again over a period of weeks or months, only to be set aside in favour of a new focus. When viewed together, however, these series suggest Sheehy’s urgent need to capture or perhaps, expel these images.
The pace at which Sheehy produces work is extraordinary, and often is only limited by the availability of materials to hand including canvas, paper, roof tiles, window blinds and paving slabs. Even his largest paintings, some 10 by 20 feet in size, take less than an hour to complete.