Leonard Sexton, painting now for 30 years, studied painting under Patrick Graham, one of Ireland’s most renowned contemporary artists. He taught for some years after graduation, before embarking on a career which saw him rapidly develop his own individual style, as well as creating a following which has resulted in several sell-out exhibitions.
Leonard Sexton’s practice is concerned with projecting a visual embodiment of reality in a state of constant flux. His paintings are compilations of marks referencing continuously evolving change and movement – extending to Sexton’s ‘real-time’ process of mark-making. Sexton’s physical process has been referenced by Crawford Gallery director Peter Murray as “layer upon layer, using drips, accidents, the transparency of linseed oil and the opaqueness of pigment…” and summarised as “explorations of the vocabulary of painting.”
Much of his output to date has explored the female form in a series of beautifully executed paintings, alongside his signature landscape works of his home town of Skerries. Sexton has also created a series of very individual interpretations of the London cityscape, where layers of pigment are presented in an almost sculptural way to evoke a sense of space in the city, executed in a style not dissimilar to the work of Giacometti, somebody who has had an acknowledged influence on this artist’s work. A closer study will also perhaps reveal certain influences from such people as Freud and Balthus.
Working from his studio, Leonard creates work that is haunting and thought provoking. His painting technique is based on a system of overpainting, where he paints over the image until it is barely visible, leaving only the impression of a fleeting subject. In doing so, every mark is as important as the next, as layer upon layer, the process itself creates the image.
He describes the act of painting as an ever-evolving state. “Beyond the dimensions of style and technique, the image takes over. Thereafter the works enter an unspoken world where they comfortably or uncomfortably exist. In my work images of reality are in a state of constant flux, scarred by the marks of change and movement. The images I create make reference to what is gone and what is to come. Everything in existence fights for survival and ultimately loses; time moves on. Where there are no figures, I believe there is an overwhelming sense of a space one has just occupied, while waiting for a reappearance. My paintings exist in a dimension where sensory perception tries to take over from visual awareness. In the search for the unattainable, one hopes to stumble upon something of relevance.”