Stylistically he couldn’t be more far removed from his father’s work. Joby’s work is thoroughly unique and his subject matter has captured the zeitgeist of a generation. His artwork is the painterly equivalent of the major cultural changes, which this country has experienced over the last ten years. His cityscapes and car paintings are evocations of life and at times the isolation of big city dwellers. They reveal a superb execution, masterly effects of light and shade, and a wonderfully exciting colouristic quality, which is derived from the artist’s study of the scenes around him. His paintings are distilled into memorable pictorial symbols, at times iconic, at time bordering on the legendary. His mastery of craft is the way in which Hickey is able to simplify his compositions and waive all merely anecdotal detail. What speaks to us is his empathy for the fate of the normal, common person with life in a mass society. Adopted as a baby his parents separated when he was just a child. He spent the early years of his life in Greece with his mother. Yet his plethora of childhood memories is of his father’s studio, of oil paints and his father’s printing press. He picked up art at an early age doing innumerable sketches. Though he completed his formal education at the National College of Art and Design, Hickey at times found art college a bit too contrived. His real artistic education came from his father who taught and encouraged him for most his life. Patrick Hickey was himself the Head of Painting in the Fine Art Faculty at the National College of Art and Design from 1986 – 1990.
Joby Hickey belongs to our generation who witnessed “man on the moon”. Many say it was man’s greatest achievement of our generation. In reviewing the film footage from that time it is almost impossible to distinguish in Hickey’s representation what is in fact canvas could actually be a still from film footage. It is this dichotomy between painting and film which underlies Hickey’s representation of the world around him, and in eschewing banal cliché of overworked realism, this remains Hickey’s recipe for success making Joby’s work accessible for decades to come.
A must see show.
Opening show “Magic Realism” by Dave Fanning, Rte Presenter, @ bold art gallery 23rd October 2008 at 7.00pm.