John P O’Sullivan investigates painterly values and pitfalls with Donald Teskey, ahead of his mid-career survey at the RHA
Donald Teskey is one of those fortunate souls who knew early on what to do in life. At the tender age of twelve, the precocious child informed his father, a Limerick builder, of his ambition to be an artist. Instead of giving him a clip across the ear and telling him to get some sense, this enlightened man bought paint and brushes and set his son loose on the local landscape. Teskey’s father was also a keen fisherman and the tyro artist would accompany him on expeditions around Bruff and Lough Gur. Teskey’s passion for depicting water was surely fostered on these early trips. Later, after a period boarding at Wesley College in Dublin, he moved on to the Limerick College of Art. There he encountered the legendary Jack Donovan, whose seductive example set many an artistic career in motion. After graduation, he was offered a show in the Lincoln Gallery in Dublin, thanks to the advocacy of a Limerick artist friend who showed there. He was on his way without any of the traipsing around galleries that is the lot of most young artists. Early confirmation that he was on the right path came when Mick Cullen and Patrick Hall bought his work at the Lincoln. This was validation from established artists. And, over time, success arrived: membership of Aosdána, elevation to the RHA (he hung this year’s annual show), multiple exhibitions in Ireland (with the Oliver Sears Gallery and others) and abroad in London, Paris and the USA. He is also one of few living Irish artists to achieve consistently high prices in our lively auction scene.
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