Charlie Whisker

b. 1950, Co. Down

Charlie Whisker was born in 1950 in Bangor, Co. Down. He is a graduate of the Belfast College of Art and spent time teaching painting at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin between 1981 and 1987. Whisker took part in both the 1985 and the 1987 Irish Exhibition of Living Art as well as the 1988 New Irish Art, North and South exhibition, which saw his work travel to New York. In 1994 he left NCAD for Los Angeles where he spent ten years working as a music video director. His work here won him various International awards including a Grammy nomination for a video he made with Bob Dylan.

Growing up in Bangor, Whisker had an idyllic childhood until the Troubles came and disrupted the North completely. Witnessing the violence first hand has had a major influence on Whisker’s work. He comments that sweet and sour images tend to litter his work, the tragic and the joyful. He likes to involve the viewers, giving them a forensic type scene to piece together in their heads. His paintings convey a feeling of brave intensity, combining stark graphics and a cool light with occasional bursts of colour.

Whisker’s paintings tend to portray scenes of debris left behind by the people they represent. The viewer is this individual, observing what they decided to leave. The items lay strewn across the ground or floating amongst an unrecognisable surface, abandoned in a metaphorical isolation, which is both strange and ordinary. One regular inclusion made to the painted scene is a burnt out match, Whiskers trademark. Having recently become a father again, Whisker has begun to subtly alter the direction of his paintings. The joyous event got him thinking about the toys his daughter will have and the toys that he once had as a young child. Softer images of things like ladybirds have begun to appear on his canvas surfaces.

Whisker is a highly regarded artist whose work is in the collections of the Arts Council, Allied Irish Banks, the Ulster Museum as well as private collectors such as members of U2, Steven Soderberg and John Boorman. Whiskers lives and works in Bray, County Wicklow.