© Estate of Michael Farrell
Micheal Farrell, Irish, 1940-2000
Title: La Fête
Date: 1984
Medium: Oil and acrylic on canvas
169 x 391 cm
Signed: (on verso): Michael Farrell/ Paris 1982
Credit Line: Presented, Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland (Patrons of Irish Art Funds), 2016
Object Number: NGI.2016.25
DescriptionThis large painting belongs to the 'Café Triste' series upon which Farrell embarked in 1976 in La Ruche, the artists' colony south-west of Paris where he had settled five years earlier. In this and another series entitled 'Alcool de serpent', Farrell responded to his struggles with alcoholism and recent estrangement from his family. His investigation of fictional encounters in Paris between artistic luminaries in particular began in the early 1980s.
In this large painting, Farrell places in each other's company four cultural giants of the twentieth century: James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso and Vaslav Najinsky. The apartment setting, in which planes overlap, elements float in space, and lines converge, is distorted and disorientating. References on the left to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower seem to anchor the setting in Paris, but a painting of a headland (Irish perhaps) at the centre of the composition, a scultpure of the camel on the table and the elevating figure of Najinsky as Krishna invite an alternative reading of time and location. So too does the dislocation of the figures themsleves, who seem unaware of each other's presence. Their kinship is determined by their shared intellectual and creative endeavour, rather than their physical proximity. A figure at the door, meanwhile, possibly Farrell himself, contemplates inclusion at this eminent gathering.
ProvenanceDreweatts, Bloomsbury, Fine Paintings, 6 April 2016, lot 117; Private Collection (from which purchased through the agency of de Vere's Art Auctions).