WHAT LIES BE­NEATH

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - ART & MUSIC -

Niall Mac­mona­gle

Youth

by Sean O’rourke Oil on metal cour­tesy of the artist In­sta­gram: @seanorourkeart

IN fifth class, artist Sean O’ROurke wanted to be a film­maker. Cre­ative since child­hood, he grew up be­tween Dol­phin’s Barn and Cork St in Dublin’s in­ner city. “My par­ents are culchies, from Mayo and Wex­ford, but “con­crete and the world around me” are his in­spi­ra­tion.

At Larkin Col­lege and Synge St graf­fiti and pen­cil draw­ings were his thing. Skate­board­ing meant “hang­ing around be­tween so­cial groups, Terenure meets Charlemont St”. He be­came more and more aware of the so­cial di­vide and wants his art to make us “more con­scious of cer­tain fron­tiers, run-down en­vi­ron­ments. My con­cerns are more so­cial than po­lit­i­cal”.

This portrait, Youth, fea­tures a 15-year-old O’rourke. He’s in the mid­dle be­tween friends Jamie (19) and Alan (also 15). Ner­vous? Tense? Un­cer­tain? Th­ese three are all of the above. It’s an oil on metal art­work, and O’rourke, who had watched the Dol­phin Barn flats be­ing de­mol­ished was struck by “the bright in­te­ri­ors, once fam­ily homes” and in his fi­nal year at NCAD he asked Dublin City Council for the metal sheets used to block up win­dows. This raw ma­te­rial au­then­ti­cally con­nects with O’rourke’s sub­ject mat­ter. The re­sult is a raw aes­thetic, a work that “re­flects my in­ter­ests and per­son­al­ity”.

Grow­ing up, O’rourke faced many chal­lenges. A pool hall in Rath­mines re­fused him en­try; gar­dai ac­costed him, sug­gested he was car­ry­ing drugs and made him drop his track­suit bot­toms.

“In Youth, I chal­lenge peo­ple’s per­cep­tions. Why should some peo­ple think th­ese three lads scum­bags? Grow­ing up I lacked con­fi­dence.” Jiu-jitsu and his teach­ers helped. Ap­pre­cia­tive of how teach­ers changed his mind­set, he him­self says he would like to teach. He works seven-hour days, six days a week. He med­i­tates, stretches, reads, stud­ies, makes art. His work has been bought by Maynooth Univer­sity, NUI Mer­rion Square, Kennedy Wil­son Es­tate Agents. He’s 23 now, is reading Carl R. Rogers’s On Be­com­ing a Per­son.

It doesn’t bother him that there’s an­other, bet­ter-known Sean O’ROurke. This SOR is find­ing his true self. “Never mind that aul fel­low. I’m the real Sean O’rourke!”

‘Cul­tural Os­mo­sis’, new work by Sean O’rourke at The Lab, un­til Nov 4

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