Crossing the Rapido III, 1998. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Anthony Hobbs. (Click on image to enlarge).
Second World War work by Hughie O’Donoghue, who was not born until 1953, is on show at the Royal Academy in London. The five major works on show reflect the personal experiences of O’Donoghue’s father, Daniel O’Donoghue, during the Second World War. They came about as a consequence of sorting out his father’s effects after his death. The central work is Road, a painting in thirty-six panels that follows the journey of Daniel O’Donoghue during his time in the military. Part painting and part sculpture, O’Donoghue has used words, photographic images and pages of an old book to create a diary and chronological ‘remembering’ of Daniel’s experiences. The artist appropriated photographs that belonged to his father, images from the Imperial War Museum, as well as his own photographs taken when revisiting places where his father spent time in the war.
Tomb of the Diver, 2002. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Anthony Hobbs. (Click on image to enlarge).
“It is a process of re-membering rather than memory. There is a process of delving going on, an archaeological dig conducted in the medium of oil paint”, he explained. Four other large scale works including Crossing the Rapido 111, which is almost seven metres long, are shown. This measurement relates to the narrowest width and depth of the Rapido River near Cassino, Italy, during the harrowing crossing by the US 36th Infantry Division in 1944. The work has been made with water and graphite dust, sitting in a steel frame.
Art by Manchester born O’Donoghue, whose mother was from the Mayo Gaeltacht and who lived for many years in Kilkenny, is in collections including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Arts Council of England, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the British Museum, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands, the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, the Imperial War Museum, the National Gallery, London, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA. The show at the Royal Academy runs until October 14.