John Keating awarded gold medal at Art Olympics

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

A Clonmel artist has joined Ireland’s list of gold medal winners.

John Keating followed in the footsteps of Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor and Paralympic stars including Darragh McDonald and Michael McKillop when he was awarded a gold medal of honour for his oil on canvas Oriental Lillies, which was displayed at the London Olympic Games Olympic Fine Arts (O.F.A.) exhibition in the Barbican Arts Centre.

John was one of 500 artists from around the world who were originally invited to submit work for the exhibition, which was aimed at spreading and praising the spirit of the modern Olympic Movement and realising the ideal of harmonising co-existence and collaborative development.

He described his subsequent selection for the show as “a fantastic honour” and said that winning the gold medal was “a huge endorsement of my work over the years and what I’ve been working towards all my life”. He was especially thrilled to receive such high recognition in such a global and international context.

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

John Keating’s oil on canvas, measuring 5 feet by 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.

He is currently exhibiting in Italy in the fifth edition of the international Biennale in a show titled Stemperando, which features 100 works on paper by 50 invited artists from Europe, Asia, China, America, Africa, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

This exhibition is touring the national libraries of Turin, Cosenza and Rome until next March. Curated by the President of the National Institute of Contemporary Art in Italy, it will be visited by between 40,000 – 50,000 viewers.

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

Although born in Tipperary town he 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.