Irish Times Tue, Aug 4, 2015
Retired dancer’s art career has taken flight following his debut exhibition in London
Paintings by Michael Flatley have generated sales of more than €1 million since the former dancer’s debut exhibition in London last month. The original star of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance has embarked on a new career as a painter, and his first selling exhibition of paintings entitled Firedance took place at 12 Hay Hill, a club and art gallery in the exclusive Mayfair district.
At least 12 of the paintings sold, for an average price of £52,000 (€74,000). Negotiations are continuing regarding further sales. As is customary, the names of the buyers have not been revealed, although one of the paintings is understood to have been acquired by the Hotel Cafe Royal – a five-star establishment on Regent Street. Among the paintings sold at the exhibition were The Grand National and The Gouldian’s Perch.
In addition, Flatley has received a private commission worth £100,000 (€142,000) from a Middle East client to create a painting and, according to his spokesman, “has received several offers from galleries and agents who want to represent him” in the international art market. Before the exhibition opened in London, Flatley told The Irish Times he was “not expecting massive success”, but just wanted the public to see his art and “let the chips fall where they may”.
The exhibition was curated by Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, a director of Pace – a leading international contemporary art gallery with venues in London, New York and Beijing – and one of the most influential figures in the global art market.
A guest list for the opening of the London exhibition included golfer Paul McGinley; the Duke of Rutland’s daughter, Lady Violet Manners; HRH Princess Alia Al Senussi (described as a member of the Libyan royal family in exile); and Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie of York, who has recently started working with Hauser & Wirth, a Savile Row art gallery.
Flatley creates his paintings by dancing on canvases (strips of marley – a type of linoleum floor covering used on stage by dancers). According to a press release issued about the exhibition, “Flatley substitutes traditional paintbrushes with dance movements to create strong energetic, choreographed abstract compositions”, which “mirror the art form for which he is most famous and hereby capture the mystical, performative aspect of his dancing practice”.
Flatley has retired from dancing but continues to tour the world with his hugely successful stage show, Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games which is currently in New Zealand.
His spokesman said Flatley “is currently in the southern hemisphere”, but intends to continue painting at studios in both his Co Cork mansion, Castlehyde, and at his house in Barbados.
Flatley’s career as a painter first came to light when he tested the market by consigning a handful of paintings to art auctions in Ireland. In April this year, his painting The Power sold at a Morgan O’Driscoll Auctioneers auction in the RDS in Dublin for €77,500.