Michael Flaherty was born in Cloghane on the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry in 1950. He studied in Maynooth, Cork and Sligo before returning to Kerry in 1989. Here he developed his distinctive style of painting to convey his love of the Kerry landscape.
Flaherty is best known for his landscapes, spontaneous, lyrical compositions that bring to mind aspects of the work of artists as diverse as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Henry and Sean Mc Sweeney. He is uninhibited in use of paint, that is of the physical stuff, the pigment itself, which he has on occasion worked in layers of imposingly thick impasto, and of course in his use of paint as colour.
Flaherty's work clearly doesn't set out merely to record a scene in terms of its appearance, it enacts the excitement of the sexual experience of an environment and, equally, excitement of painting.
Flaherty effectively conveys a sense of panoramic space by simplifying his subjects rather than getting bogged down by fussy details. Elemental shapes saturated with intensive colour - reds, blues, greens, lilacs and pinks, earthen colours vary according to the changing conditions, communicating to us not only the artist's perceptions but also his powerful feelings for his native Dingle peninsula.
His work has featured in many group and solo shows around Ireland, Britain, Europe and the USA. His work is represented in a wide variety of public and private collections including Irish Life, ESB, Dublin University, Kerry Food, various Government Departments, New York University and Commerz Bank of Frankfurt.
Mick Flaherty’s distinctive style, his fearless use of intense colour, his textures, his honesty and his deep feelings for his immediate environment tend to impact on the viewer in the way Tamasin Day-Lewis has so elequently described.
Naipaul said, “No city or landscape is truly real until it has been given the quality of myth by a writer or painter, or it’s association with great events”. The way Mick is dealing with the Brandon area is part of this mythologizing, the making of this area very special.
His is a primeval multi-layered magical landscape, with very little human interruption. It is his muse. It is little wonder he is addicted to painting. His desire to interpret his native place has become “part of life itself”.
Hang the Expense
What was Tamasin Day-Lewis doing splashing out on art, when she could barely afford a kitchen sink?
“The picture was small, about ten inches by eight, and looked as though the paint had been scraped on with a trowel. Close up it looked like no more than a few dark indigo and fir-green streaks with a daub of yellow and an unidentifiable white splodge beneath.
I stood back a few paces, and it was as though someone had changed the focus on the film projector, the way they do in the cinema, and the image changes instantly from soft focus to sharp. There was a dark mountain painted in horizontal strokes, a splash of green field with bursts of yellow beneath, and to the left, above it, a corner of glaring sky. The white splodge, streaked with blue, was a boiling river that looked as though it had recently poured out of the mountain top after a storm. It could only be Ireland, though was clearly not a part I knew ...this picture I couldn’t take my eyes off. I knew I had to have it...”
TAMASIN DAY-LEWIS Stella Magazine, Sunday Telegraph, 2006
“Mick’s paintings have a particular importance and a particular grace. They have to do with the intertwining of the intrinsic magic of a place, and Mick’s sort of genius in making that clear on canvas”
NUALA NÍ DHOMHNAILL