Olympic honour for award-winning artist John Keating

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

An award-winning Clonmel artist who has been chosen to take part in the European section of the exhibition of the London Olympic Games has described his selection as “a fantastic honour”.

The exhibition at the Olympic Fine Arts will open in the Museum of London on August 1 and John Keating says he’s thrilled that his work will feature in the show.

John, who has been based in Dublin since the late 1970s and lives in Dalkey, has exhibited nationally and internationally for more than 25 years.

He was also one of 23 artists from around the world who were invited to take part in the First Beijing International Biennale China in 2003. The biennale, which also marked the 850th anniversary of the founding of Beijing, was developed after China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and winning the bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. It was staged at the China Art Gallery after a year of planning and was a huge success.

Olympic Fine Arts (OFA) 2012, which John has described as a massive career boost, is aimed at spreading and praising the spirit of the modern Olympic Movement and realising the ideal of harmonious co-existence and collaborative development.

The theme for the event, which is in effect the Art Olympic Games, is The River Thames- The Great Wall – Embrace the World.

John Keating’s oil on canvas, measuring 5 feet x 4 feet, shows hands reaching down to hold a bunch of cascading oriental lillies, some of which are about to open and others fully formed, symbolising purity and virtue.

His painting built up layers on the canvas to create a 3D effect on a 2D surface and suggests that, despite his scarred history, man has always striven for beauty and harmony.

Although born in Tipperary town, John grew up in Upper Gladstone Street in Clonmel, the son of the late Nora and Pierce Keating. His sister Mary Maher (nee Keating) still lives in Upper Gladstone Street. He has two other sisters, Anne Condon, who lives in Newcastle, and Monica Hennessy who lives in Carrigaline in Cork.

John was a member 45 years ago of the first committee of the South Tipperary Art Group (STAG), which is still going strong today.

He studied at the Crawford College of Art in Cork, Trinity College, Loughborough University in Leicestershire and The Arts Student League of New York, which he attended on a scholarship.

He has won several national and international awards, including the Fulbright Cultural Enrichment Award in the United States and the Gold Medal XXV Survey of Painting in Vertova, Italy.

His work is also featured in an exhibition that has opened recently in the Lake Como area of Italy.

The forthcoming exhibition in London is taking place under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee, supported by the London organising committee of the Olympic Games. It is approved by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and supported by the China International Culture Association, and the Beijing Association for the promotion of Olympic Related Culture.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Vincenzo Sanfo, the famous curator of international exhibitions who has collaborated with the Venice Biennale and Venice Film Festival since 1988 and who invited John Keating to apply for the Olympics exhibition.

He was Curator of the first Beijing Biennale of world art and has initiated and organised solo exhibitions including Rembrandt, Renoir, Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Baselitz, Rainer Fetting and Enzo Cucchi.