Leo Quinlan is an Irish artist, born, raised and living in Galway.
He is a former Army Officer and more recently has worked for the European Commission in Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa, Asia Minor and the Balkans.
He has had an interest in painting for many years and is now concentrating on this activity on a full time basis. While this selection of paintings is 100% Acrylic on canvas Leo also uses Oils, Watercolour and Pastels.
He mainly focuses on Irish Landscapes and Seascapes and where possible combines the two in his paintings.
Most of his paintings are inspired by the scenery of the West of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way.
In a time where the real world is increasingly replaced by a virtual one, the essence of life seems to get lost. From this evolves a new belief in nature´s power. Nature as a place of longing, paradise, refuge, as an alternative in a disenchanted world and a way to wring some poetry out of earthly existence. In transitional societies and changing times this seems to be a human survival strategy.
Leo Quinlan seems to have adopted this attitude toward life. After decades of professional engagements around the world, he retires to his refuge in Western Ireland on the idyllic "Ring of Kerry" on the Atlantic coast and where he can be found painting- in very impressionistic and romantic tradition - in the barren, forestless fascinating, mountain landscapes and seascapes. Light is magic there with it’s 40 different shades of green. For good reason William Drennan was the first one to call the green Irish nation the "Emerald Island". In poetic rhymes, he conjures its extraordinary landscapes:
"But when its soft tones seem to mourn and to weep,
the dark chain of silence is thrown o'er the deep”.
The light fascinates and inspires Leo at the same time. His treeless hills are illuminated depending on the light, either ocher yellow, bottle green, beige or azur blue. He looks at the soothing and mollifying monotony of the sea with sailing boats quietly, majesticly gliding and seldom landing in any harbor. In the South West of Ireland it is difficult to escape the presence of the purist landscape and the sea. Artistic action is for Leo expression and depiction of what is essential to him, i.e. the land and the sea.
Painting seems to be for Leo a different form of home, an inner home that provides balance and keeps him grounded. And his art works transmit exactly what he feels during painting: pace of grace, harmony and the equilibrium of things. It is not landscape "copying" as taught in traditional art academies, but, broken by the artist's eye, new unusual compositions are created. Sheep or Atlantic Gannets which populate the Skellig Islands, are shaped to half-abstract elements and are only recognizable as white-black or colored light points. In the tiny houses the existence of smoking chimneys shows that there is also life. But people are mostly not existent, as if they were meaningless or unimportant to the landscape.
Leo is in fact a self-taught artist and his acrylic paintings are particularly reminiscent of the "Naïve Artist Group" in Croatia. In this way, they were less defined by their style, but by its picturesque expressive power. And they shared the fact that they were artistic laymen who did not enjoy any academic art education.
"Art is my spiritual home and I paint what I see and I derive great pleasure from this work." he says about himself.
And so, he stands in the tradition of the Irish Joseph Addison and his work "Pleasures of imagination", who wrote that "...our sight is the most perfect and most delightful of all our senses. It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas, converses with its objects at the greatest distance, and continues the longest in action without being tired or satiated with its proper enjoyments."