A Quick Overview
The portrait of Vicky Phelan is a ‘triptych’ which means it consists of three panels side by side. It was created by the Irish artist Vincent Devine and bought by David Brennan, a family friend of Vicky Phelan, at an online auction for the Heroes Aid Charity. Straddling the boundaries of Realism, Surrealism and Expressionism, the portrait measures 300cm x 150 metres and is infused with a mysterious pulse that resonates beyond the canvas.
Reading from left to right, Vicky Phelan’s narrative is conveyed as past, present and future acted out on Doonbeg Beach in the west of Ireland. The left-hand panel is dominated by a powerful assemblage of flesh and bone whose forward motion is suddenly halted.
The centre panel dominates. Here the sitter engages directly with the viewer. Events, both joyful and traumatic are rendered symbolically. Her outstretched right hand supports a bird, a young crimson rosella, representative of her daughter. On her left hand, her son as a sapling oak. Beneath her left foot, a colonnade represents a legal triumph while shamrocks close to her heart are emblematic of the continuous support she has received from the people of Ireland and beyond. Within her torso, invisible cancer is made visible. Her eyes are bright with strength and hope.
In the right-hand panel a horse is looking backwards, a collage of powerfully charged symbols is placed between its hind legs and forelegs. A flickering candle reminds the viewer of the fragility of life itself. Indented into the sands beneath, Vicky Phelan’s footsteps leave the canvas.
Vicky collaborated with the artist throughout the process and they both agreed the painting should be situated in Doonbeg in Co. Clare, a location she describes as her favourite place on earth.
Vicky has always loved the painting for “making the invisible visible” and hopes the work will act as a “symbol of hope” for those who see it. She was unsure when first approached about the portrait but that the artist “won me over”.
“I could see how invested he was in his work. He’s very strong into women’s rights and advocating for women and what I really loved was the anatomical way he painted me. I really like this idea of showing my scars.”
Vincent began painting in 2008 while studying in college. He wanted to explore a new way of painting outside of academia. A unique style quickly emerged which Vincent has nurtured to create a visual style that stands on its own. Subconscious undertones have always been prevalent in his work, and he continues to defy categorisation as an artist of a certain genre due to his constant fluctuation into new and exciting styles in his painting practice.
His work has been lauded by huge stars such as Shakira, Will.I.Am, Alanis Morissette and J.K Rowling. He has been commissioned by the likes of Tyra Banks, Roisin Murphy, Iggy Azalea and been featured on Madonna’s “Rebel Heart Tour” and Debbie Harry’s autobiography “Face It”.
In 2018 Vincent had a sellout show of the Irish debut of his new Manifesto work to one of Ireland’s most prominent collectors. This new work is an in-depth exploration into the visual implications of the subconscious mind through various exercises and visual depictions.
Vincent seeks to find answers to the subconscious undertones that have always informed his work yet eludes understanding on a conscious plane. His new work is explored under the umbrella term “Neo-Dimensionism” and seeks to visually explain the inexplicable, paint the unpaintable. He produces this work in tandem with his hugely popular and unique “Ambigutree Series” which has garnered considerable interest at home and abroad.
David Brennan is a lifelong friend of Vicky Phelan. They grew up together in the village of Mooncoin in south Kilkenny and their families share a close bond. David is also the managing director of Eastgate Engineering, an Irish business with operations in the UK.
David and his wife Alicia were watching the Late Late Show one Friday evening when they saw the portrait being unveiled and heard about the charity auction. When David’s wife Alicia turned to him and said ‘You have to buy that painting, you have to bring it home’, he knew she was right.
A few weeks later, he bid at the online auction, and following a few nerve-wracking minutes, he emerged as the proud owner of the portrait. Truth be told, he doesn’t consider himself the owner, more a custodian. He wants to use the portrait to raise awareness and continue Vicky’s extraordinary legacy.