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Contemporary Irish Artist - Eva O'Donovan


Irish Artist, Eva O’Donovan, embraces all elements of femininity in her striking portraits. The wonderfully intricate pieces manage to emanate strength, as well as a sense of vulnerability, elegance and modernity. Eva has her own unusual technique when it comes to preparing her canvases. Uniquely, Eva sources beautifully designed vintage fabric as the foundation for her work.

Victoria, SOLD, 100 cm X 75 cm, Oil on printed Designers Guild Fabric. Inspired by 2020 Chanel Campaign.

Through stretching and treating the fabric, which is primarily a linen blend, Eva transforms a piece of material into her blanket canvas. The patterned base, on which she paints, is a striking component of her mesmerising portraits. Through selecting vintage fabrics and incorporating them into her art, Eva immortalises a piece of history.

At a recent visit to her studio, I was shown a vibrant, ruby-red fabric, adorned with black embroidered birds, some perched on floral branches, others mid-flight across the molten red fabric. “This is a vintage piece of fabric, from Paris, dating around 1890”, Eva informed me. I remember exclaiming that the fabric itself was a cross between a little section of history and a piece of art. Eva only serves to accentuate the fabric’s beauty by adding to its history as she furnishes it with her application of oil paint.

A vintage piece of fabric, from Eva's studio, dating to Paris c.1890.

Art and high-end fashion often elope, in the sense that they gel particularly well together. They fuse to create an added element of exclusivity to both the fashion and art markets. The fusion of art and high-end fashion is not a new phenomenon, Victoria Beckham regularly collaborates with the world renowned Sotheby's auction house to unite two, seemingly opposite, arts. The stark contrast, between her chic clothing line and traditional Old Master paintings, is somehow intriguingly captivating. The intention being to appeal to a new generation of younger art collectors entering the market. Closer to home, in 2018, John Redmond, the creative Director of Brown Thomas, integrated Eva’s unique, fabric portraits into the 2018 Spring/Summer collection. The collaboration accentuated the notion that fashion is art and art is fashion. Eva’s wonderfully sophisticated women graced the iconic Brown Thomas windows in a marriage of exquisitely chic fashion and graceful contemporary art. To uncover more about this exciting collaboration, click here!

Artist, Eva O’ Donovan, photographed in her picturesque studio. A converted Victorian warehouse in the heart of Dublin City.

I was reminded of Michelangelo’s unfinished marble sculptures, half emerged from the marble plinth, as I admired the female figures emerging from the fabric of Eva’s paintings. Surfaces of the fabric are often left exposed, or are incorporated into the figure’s form, as clothing. This creates a wonderfully, soft melange of materials. I was captivated by the still Untitled, bold and intriguing female figure that greeted me from across the room when I first entered the studio. In the form of the latest portrait, the intense gaze which caught my attention belonged to a serene-like portrait of a female beauty. Emerging from an orange coloured, intricately patterned, Designers Guild fabric, I asked Eva how she managed to depict such an intense gaze. Eva remarked that she was inspired to create a female figure which radiated fortitude, after reading a review of a piece by Mona Eltahway in The Irish Times magazine entitled “I want patriarchy to fear us’. At first glance, Eva’s work is strikingly beautiful, but on reflection and after spending time with one of her ‘Girls’, something deeper begins to emerge.

Untitled, Oil on Liberty Fabric, 100 cm x 75 cm, Inspired by Vogue Espana 2008.

Eva portrays diversity in femininity through a series of portraits forming the Chrysalis exhibition. The wonderfully diverse exhibition is making its rounds with the second leg taking place in Enniscorthy Arts Centre, virtually from May 24th and running until July 24th 2021. The exhibition embraces the Transfeminine as Eva collaborated with the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) to “promote Positive Visibility and the rights of Transgender people and their families by presenting a collection of powerful portraits featuring members of the Transfeminine and broader TENI community”. While working closely with the sitters in her portraits, Eva began to formulate and forge lasting friendships. Each portrait is individualised, as the sitter actively contributed to the design of the fabric used. The portraits completely capture the sitter's personality, authentic taste and overall aura.

Eva's work touches on the diverse nature of femininity. The aesthetic beauty of her oeuvre is only one element encompassing her portraits. Encased with a deeper meaning, which envelops any viewer standing in front of her work, she manages to ignite a deep emotional connection between the viewer and the portrait.

Eva's work is highly sought after, crossing paths with celebrity interior designers, the high-end fashion world and avid art collectors as far-reaching as the USA, Iceland and Germany.

To see more of Eva and keep taps on her latest work, find her on Instagram: @evaodonovanartist

or even shoot her an email:

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