Born in Cork and brought up in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Aosdána member Michael Mulcahy is one of Ireland’s leading expressionist artists. He has exhibited all over the world and, he tells me, he was a personal guest of felled dictator Saddam Hussein back in the day. “I was invited out there,” he says “so I went. “ Saddam Hussein saw photographs of my work and he asked me to come out. He used to have international festivals of art out there. I did loads of paintings when I was there and I speak very good Arabic. I have a good ear.” Michael then proceeded to speak Arabic to me, but unfortunately I could only pick out a word or two!
“And this is Michael the Archangel – a self-portrait! I love icons. I study icons.
“This painting (below) is a mixture of oil, acrylic and charcoal. I’m a very good technician. My brother hung himself because of threatening letters from the banks,” Michael says. “How many suicides are the bankers responsible for? And we as Irish people are doing nothing about it. It’s about time we stood up and started castrating them. Just after he hung himself I painted this. You have to stand back to see it. And no, it’s not for sale.
I ask Michael how much his paintings cost. “I have a socialist system,” he says. “Young people love my paintings. If they’re starting a collection, I say how much does mean to you? I’m a draper’s son. Cut the cloth according to the measure.”
Michael’s wonderful paintings are on exhibit at St. John’s Theatre & Arts Centre for the next few weeks.