NESTLED within a gentle valley, between silver hills of karst limestone that rise and fall towards an Atlantic horizon, Richard Hearns grapples with a canvas, stretched to mirror the reach of his body.
The artist is shipping his painting, Kārwān, to Dublin’s Royal Hibernian Academy, where he will present the work before an audience, before it moves to Sotheby’s in London for their Modern British & Irish Art Auction.
The auction is serendipitously timed alongside Hearns’ solo-show at the Cadogan Gallery in Kensington, where his most recent body of work, Nomad, went on display on November 16.
Hearns was born in Beirut during the civil war, and adopted as an infant by an Irish UN Peacekeeper and his wife.
He was raised in Dublin, where he studied Fine Art & Digital Media, before setting-off around the world like many young adults before him.
Unlike many others, he continued to wander. With an easel in tow. Hearns has always used his art as a vehicle for exploration and expression; “it’s the only thing I’m good at, and the only thing I want to do. There is nothing else,” he responds, when asked what draws him to the canvas holding a brush charged with raw potential.
Hearns recently purchased a disused dairy-farm in The Burren National Park, where he lives and works with his wife Boo, his creative equal through her culinary skills.
Following 20 years of rambling, they have rooted themselves to this captivating corner of the world.
The limestone of the surrounding hills was formed beneath a tropical sea, which covered most of Ireland 350 million years ago.
Today it rests gracefully under an ever-changing sky, which is hurried to the east by vigorous Atlantic winds.
Richard and Boo met at the shore of another tropical sea – a small Thai island off the Cambodian coast, where they were both enjoying the long exhale of post-university life.
For 20 years they have travelled the world, Richard painting and exhibiting, Boo cooking and coaching.
For the first time, they have now committed to a place – a home. As if startled into realisation, and perhaps nervousness, Hearns’ brush has led him on a journey of exploration of his new circumstances.
Beginning with Enclave, a body of work that was delivered through lockdown, Hearns explored our innate desire to create comfortable surroundings – physically, socially, and emotionally.
This work was followed by the current series, Nomad, which reflects on the artist’s transient inclination, and speaks to his interest in exploring life, and self, through his practice.
In the words of Raphy Sarkissian, independent scholar and art advisor, the Nomad paintings are “aesthetic investigations of visuality suspended between abstraction and non-abstraction, suspended between random smears of color and their organization directed toward the representation of nature as a primordial intuition, suspended between vision’s own shift and stability”.
In many ways Hearns is still wandering through his art, and through the world. In many ways we are all still wandering, and in many ways Nomad helps us to understand why.