WHAT LIES BENEATH
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