Born in Belfast 1916
Gerard Dillon was born in Belfast in 1916, after leaving school at the age of fourteen he became a painter and decorator, working in London. He is mainly a self-taught painter but attended art classes in Belfast. He, Dan O’ Neill and George Campbell were painting acquaintances. Dillon developed his painting practice in both Dublin and Belfast and from the Second World War onwards he regularly visited Connemara in the West of Ireland. He was greatly inspired by the rugged and beautiful landscape of Connemara with its mountains, seas and lakes. He was captivated by the laid back lifestyle of the West, which appeared simple and innocent in contrast to the towns and cities elsewhere in Ireland. His work can be interpreted as more than depictions of life around him, they were reactions and interactions in paint.
Dillon held his first solo show in 1942 at The Country Shop, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, the show was opened by his friend and fellow artist, Mainie Jellett. Just as Dillon’s reputation as an artist was growing he had to leave for London to work on demolition gangs to earn money, but after the War he became more successful as an artist. In 1958 he had the great honour of representing Ireland at the Guggenheim International and Pittsburg International Exhibition in Great Britain.From 1967 onwards Dillon’s practice as a painter changed considerably after he had a stroke. It caused him to reflect on his own mortality especially since three of his brothers had died prematurely from a similar complaint. His paintings now transpired from perceptions of death resulting in works evoking that of another world. Dillon died of a second stroke in 1971 at the age of 55.