RHA Annual Exhibition features 'Butter' by Conor Walton.

21 March 2016

The RHA Annual Exhibition is the largest open submission show of art in Ireland, and this year included Conor's painting 'Butter' (right), which was picked out as an example of "gobsmacking painted realism" by the Sunday Times critic Cristin Leach.


Conor Walton attends State Reception at Dublin Castle


As part of the 1916 Centenary Celebrations, Conor was among the guests at a State Reception at Dublin Castle, and met the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

Right: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Conor Walton


Conor Walton Draws Childrens' portraits at The Ark

Conor spent three days drawing 22 half-hour portraits of children in The Ark, as part of their 'Put Yourself in the Picture' celebration of children's portraiture.

The Ark is a cultural centre for children in Temple Bar in the historic heart of Dublin. 'Put Yourself in the Picture' was conceived by Visual Arts Directer Aideen Lynch as their response to the Easter 1916 Centenary celebrations, where children make portraits of themselves and each other, and are joined by some of Ireland's leading portrait artists (Una Sealy, Blaise Smith, Pj Lynch, Dorothy Smith, Brian Maguire and Conor Walton) to cover the walls and fill the building with portraits. The children receive copies of the artists' portraits, while the originals join The Ark's permanent collection.

"Its been a marathon but hugely enjoyable. Thanks to all the sitters and The Ark for inviting me. " - Conor Walton

Conor Walton's portrait of Noel Curran, retiring Director General of RTÉ, is unveiled.


The portrait was drawn from life in a single sitting, and will hang in RTE's headquarters in Dublin.


Conor Walton featured as 'One to Watch' in America's 'Fine Art Connoisseur'


"Conor Walton (b. 1970) says that, through
his paintings and drawings, he seeks answers
to the questions posed in the title of Paul Gauguin’s 1897 masterwork: “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” This is heady stuff, made palpable in Walton’s hands.

Born in Dublin, he grew up drawing, and
earned a B.A. in fine art and art history from
the National College of Art there. He went on
to take an M.A. in art history and theory from
the University of Essex in England, where
study of past styles and iconography ultimately informed his own artistry. In the mid-1990s, Walton spent a year in the Florence atelier of Charles Cecil, an American who has sustained the techniques and worldview of the Old Masters. For the past two decades, Walton has been painting full-time in Ireland, and now lives south of Dublin.

In his quest to “explore issues of truth,
meaning, and value,” Walton applies techniques from the past to contemporary concerns, arriving at allegories that subtly re-activate mythic characters, books, animals, and symbols. When it comes to figures, Walton can think big: he recently produced a 48 x 96-inch “superhistory painting” titled An Ape’s Limbs Compared to Man’s that overlays the iconography of science and progress upon the traditions of Christianity and classical humanism. As live models are expensive and Walton paints slowly, he has also found a way to enliven the potentially dreary genre of still
life: some scenes of fruits or toys may initially
appear straightforward, yet closer inspection
reveals that everything has been selected strategically for both intellectual impact and formal appeal.

Walton starts with an idea, then makes
studies with a model or arrangement, building
up his oils on linen with impasto and a superb
mastery of light and shade. 'Illusionism
still has great artistic potential,' he believes,
' because reality is something we find difficult
and threatening. I’ve heard it said that people
can avoid facing reality, but they can’t avoid
the consequences of not facing reality. I think
my work is very much bound up with these
issues, with naturalism at one remove, with
fantasy and disillusionment. In our culture ...
affluence and industrialization have become
weapons in a general war against reality,
against nature. But nature’s still going to win.... We are not, nor were we ever, in control of our own destiny.'

This skeptical view of human progress
is deftly conveyed in Phaethon, which shows
one of Walton’s sons hoisting a fish from the
sea as a rocket launches in the distance. The
title alludes to the son of the Greek sun god,
Helios, who insisted on steering his father’s
chariot. Unable to control its horses, the boy
(whose name means “Shining One”) imperiled
the well-being of the entire earth, so Zeus was compelled to slay him with a thunderbolt.
Walton’s painting suggests we all be very careful what we wish for, and we certainly



Conor Walton takes part in the Sky Arts 'Portrait Artist of the Year 2016'


Episode 4 of Sky's 'Portrait Artists of the Year 2016', featuring Conor Walton as one of the contestants, will be broadcast on 21 February 2017 at 20.00 GMT.

Further details will be revealed following broadcast.




'Personal Choice II' opens at Gormleys Fine Art


'Personal Choice II' curated by Bernadette Madden, featuring new works by Eugene Conway, Joe Dunne RHA, James English RHA, Bernadette Madden, Jacqueline Stanley and Conor Walton.



Conor Walton draws the Graduating 6th Class at Wicklow Montessori Primary School


"Once again I've been back drawing the children at WMPS, and greatly enjoyed doing so. Thanks to the children for posing."
- Conor Walton


'Glow', featuring work by Conor Walton, opens at the Catherine Hammond Gallery in West Cork.


"To visually echo the shift from late summer into autumn the gallery has commissioned a group of national artists to explore and interpret the idea and theme of 'Glow'."

Participating artists:
Tom Climent, Eamon Colman, William Crozier, Neal Greig, Eilis O'Connell, Peter Martin, James McCreary, Michael Ray, Conor Walton.

'The highlight of the show is, for this viewer, the opposition between Walton’s Burning and Climent’s The Heart Holds I & II, The Heart Waits and Arandell. The two artists, from younger and older generations respectively, come from opposite ends of the painting spectrum. Where Climent has developed a compositional language over many years, based on the tenets of high modernism, Walton has emerged over recent years, under the influence of the anti-modernist Odd Nerdrum, as well as in response to contemporary photo-realist and post-modern trends. It is perhaps ironic, then, to find that their works compliment each other so well. Both artists share a sense of graphic precision and restraint, in combination with a preference for high-key colour. Both are sensitive craftsmen, and gifted practitioners in oil. Burning is beautifully composed and it is enjoyable to see the diamond-matrix pencil lines visible through the painting. Walton’s geometric under-pinning provides further synergy with Climent’s crisp, rhomboidal compositions.

'Walton is a very playful painter; his work mostly flaunts the sincere Classical creed, often enjoining comical and ironic imagery. Having shaped himself up as a new Classicist, he’s often proceeded to flirt with the post-modern, in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. Walton, it must be said, is as near a painter gets to being a comedian. One wonders whether Nerdrum would approve, but it’s certainly refreshing. Looking at Burning with this in mind, it is very tempting to see an athlete with the Olympic torch, having caught himself on fire; a statement in anti-heroism, a cautionary tale in getting “too big for your boots”. In this sense it could be anti-Classical in a Classical kind of way. On a deeper note, the piece also puts me in mind of Tom Cowen’s book Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit. Cowen’s title is, in turn lifted from The Song of Wandering Aengus, by William Butler Yeats: “I went out into the hazelwood, / Because a fire was in my head, / And cut and peeled a hazel wand, / And hooked a berry to a thread…”. According to Cowan the “fire in the head” is a Shamanic term describing the state of enlightenment, “illuminating visions of other realities.”'

- excerpt from a eview by James Waller in the West Cork Review


'Curated by Maureen O’Sulllivan, this is a very reflective and intelligent selection of work, arranged to make best use of the bright, naturally-lit space. The challenge of demonstrating a consistent theme across a group show, without ascribing excessive meaning or interpretation, is well achieved.

'Conor Walton shows two small realist still life works. An open pound of butter is exactly what you get in Butter. All rich yellow dairy substance and golden foil, it is a beautiful work which stands out among the various landscapes. Hanging above this, A Jug of Milk is more subtle, with a single white highlight on the surface of the jug. Walton’s third painting, Burning, depicts, in ochreorange tones, a full-length male nude running and holding a flaming torch, its fire engulfing his head and upper body. While technically impressive, it seems startling and incongruous here, and a less subtle interpretation of the exhibition theme'

- excerpt from a review by Colm Desmond in the Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet



Conor Walton teaches sighti-size drawing at the RHA


Conor, along with several leading Irish artists and academicians including Colin Martin, Blaise Smith, Una Sealy, James Hanley and Sahoko Blake, have joined forces to teach a course on drawing.

"This 15 week part time drawing course provides a skill-based approach to the development of individual drawing practice, providing the basic technical, material and observational skills for drawing. The course covers traditional and contemporary approaches to drawing and the content will range from sight size observation, spatial organisation to in depth anatomical study. The course is facilitated by experienced tutors and students will receive written feedback on course completion. Students who would benefit from this course are artists who wish to develop traditional drawing skills or up-skill as well as students who wish to develop the fundamental skills for drawing practice."

Conor taught the first two weeks, covering sight-size method,



Wexford Opera Festival Exhibition opens at Greenacres Gallery, Wexford


Greenacres Gallery once again hosted an exhibition featuring the best of Irish art to coincide with the Wexford Opera Festival, a major event in the international opera calendar.

Several of Conor Walton's paintings featured prominently, including 'Venus Hibernica' and 'An Ape's Limbs compared to Man's'.

The Exhibition was opened by Mick O'Dea, President of the Royal Hibernian Academy, pictured here with Conor and two of his children, Caoimhe and Ciarán.