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Gisele Scanlon reviews Anne Donnelly in The Irish Independent

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The talented Irish painter Anne Donnelly was born in Belfast and grew up in County Carlow. After many years journeying through France, Spain and Morocco she now lives near Tivoli, with her Italian husband Carlo Mazzantini, who is a poet and a novelist.

For many years art collectors have wondered about her as her exquisite, modestly sized lyrical paintings have had a strong presence on the Irish art scene for a number of years, yet until now she has been almost invisible to the general Irish connoisseur.

The artist was present with her family at the Peppercanister Gallery, Herbert Street, Dublin, during the week for the unveiling of her new work by poet Macdara Woods. Anne Donnelly’s art has a superficial resemblance to that of Camille Souter, who regularly visits Italy and with whom she is friendly.

However Donnelly’s art is quite distinctive and individual. The scale is modest but the ambition and sensibility are daring and unique. Olive groves, symbolic seagulls, farmyard fowl and swans in flight are frequent themes from her Italian experience.

Passionate evocations of canal locks and wintry landscapes result from her frequent return visits to Ireland, east and west. Her distinctive images of beautiful young women suggest a love of early Italian fresco painting and remind us that she is also the mother of four grown-up, attractive daughters.

A friend also of poet Seamus Heaney, who writes about her most enthusiastically in the accompanying illustrated catalogue, Anne Donnelly will stake out her claim to a position in the first division of contemporary Irish art with this scintillating collection of recent paintings.

Anne Donnelly is a little master of the contemporary scene and this is her first solo exhibition at the Peppercanister Gallery.