Born on Valencia Island

Charles Harper was born on Valencia Island, Co. Kerry in 1943. From 1960-67 he studied at the National College of Art and Design, the Limerick School of Art, and the Dublin Graphic Studio. He was taught by Maurice MacGonigal and Sean Keating.

See “Heads” piece within the collection

Heads by Charles Harper

Heads by Charles Harper


Charles Harper’s practice predominantly focuses on the human figure, with a brief expansion into landscape painting in 1995. He reiterates his concern with the human condition by working in series, reproducing the image multiple times within each work.He describes his work as existential referring to his being and to the lives of those around him. He uses recognizable images to convey his ideas. His work always illustrates a structure and organization.Harper gains his inspiration from the media and magazines and he states:

” I want to draw the flat image. I prefer direct nature but the media is what is effecting people now, thats how people are oriented in the time your living in.”

“The language of the painting has to make sense, just as spoken or written language makes sense”

Harper is influenced by artists such as Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Louis Le Brocquy and Patrick Collins. In his treatment of the human head the influence of Bacon and Le Brocquy can easily be seen. The act of painting is what matters as he sees the actual process as one of exploration and discovery. He says ” the process, the making excites me more than any end product.” His work has the ability and versatility to expand in any direction with its graphic edge and dramatic connotations.

Dorothy Walker wrote of Harper’s work: ” The grid in fact has something of the effect of a theatre curtain with its accompanying connotations of drama.”

He exhibits regularly in Ireland and abroad. He has represented Ireland many times abroad in such countries as India, Switzerland, Italy, Latvia, England, France, the US and Sweden.

He has received eight National Awards for his painting, including: First prize for Painting commemorating the 1916 Rising at the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, The Carrols Open Award at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1971, the Arts Councils Bonn an Uachtarain de Hide at The Oireachtas Art Exhibition.

His Work is included in many important public and private collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is a Lecturer at Limerick School of Art and Design (LIT). A founder member of Aosdana and a RHA since 2002


Public Collections

  • The Arts Council, Dublin
  • The Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • RTÉ
  • The Haverty Trust, Dublin
  • PJ Carroll & Co Ltd, Dublin
  • Allied Irish Agency, Dublin
  • The Gordon Lambert Collection
  • The Late President O Dalaigh’s Collection
  • Limerick City Art Gallery
  • Allied Irish Banks, Dublin & London
  • UCD. Dublin
  • TCD Dublin
  • GPA Shannon, Co. Clare
  • Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art Dublin
  • Ulster Museum Belfast
  • Crawford Art Gallery, Cork: National Self Portrait Collection
  • University of Limerick
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA
  • Cecis Art Museum Latvia: The Latvian Ministry of Culture, Riga, Latvia
  • Telecom Eireann, Dublin
  • Pontravera Museum of Art, Spain
  • Kingston University London UK
  • Paintings in many Irish Embassies throughout the world

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