© National Gallery of Ireland
Brian Bourke, Irish, b.1936
Title: Sweeney Enchained
Date: 1988
Medium: Mixed media on paper
Image: 104 × 69 cm
112 × 76 cm
Signed: lower right: Brian Bourke 1988
Credit Line: Purchased, 2022
Object Number: NGI.2022.46
DescriptionThese large-scale mixed media works demonstrate the importance of drawing in Brian Bourke’s practice as an artist. His expressive use of media including coloured pencil, graphite, watercolour and gouache gives these narrative images a dramatic energy and vitality. They are inspired by the old Irish legend of Suibhne Mac Colmáin, an Irish chieftain who opposed the coming of Christianity and was cursed by St Ronan: ‘He shall roam Ireland, mad and bare. He shall find death on the point of a spear.’ According to legend, Sweeney went mad in battle and spent the rest of his days leaping frantically from place to place without comfort or end. Bourke was inspired to explore Sweeney as a subject after reading Seamus Heaney’s 1983 translation of the medieval Irish epic poem ‘Buile Suibhne’ or ‘Sweeney Astray’. A group of twelve works from the series was exhibited at Rosc ’88.
ProvenancePurchased through Taylor Galleries, Dublin
Exhibition HistoryRosc ’88, Guinness Hop Store, St James’s Gate, Dublin 8

Infinite Jest, Taylor Gallery, Dublin, 19 May 2022 - 11 June 2022
Inscriptionlower left: Sweeney Enchained

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