John Kelly, Irish painter and printmaker, 1932-2006

Press Cuttings John Kelly at Triskel Arts Centre, Cork

John Kelly’s exhibition at the Triskel Arts centre in Cork, one of the Arts Council touring shows, includes watercolours of the past four years in the form of a notebook. There is a notebook intimacy, and sense of initial mental struggle as incomplete images or ideas emerge, left to be resolved by whoever may look at them. There are illegible scribblings. Yet each work is executed with masterly precision and delicacy, and a porcelain-like wash in glowing neutral tones.

Kelly has always been interested in human presence, somewhat pale and shadowy in his earlier work: but, in maturity, this interest has expanded on a broad level. In the “Letter” watercolours, he projects the emotion of reader and writer, as well as the tangible element.

This has led him to an exploration of Renaissance personalities, the elusive relationship between their paintings, their act of writing – and their physical presence: in beautiful images, sometimes portraits as of Rembrandt and Brueghel, that are understated, yet compelling.

Hilary Pyle, The Irish Times, 01.10.1984