Phil Irish

Home: Elora ON
Title: Awake, O Sleeper
Media: Oil on aluminum
Dimensions: 117 x 142 cm

Artist Statement

This project began with a self-portrait: an image of me napping (with our cat stretching luxuriously). Another ingredient is an image of Christ’s dead body, (based on Van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross). The collision of these two images – death with sleeping, violence with peace, ancient with contemporary – has helped me explore what death means to me, and what kind of transformations I am moving into, both now whenever death comes. My closed eyes make me wonder: am I truly, honestly, alive?


For 5 years, Irish has been combining painting with collage. He has developed a visual language of intricately painted images that are spliced and flayed, and recombined. This energy of life, and violent re-ordering, reflects both the vitality and risk of our changing global culture. It provokes the awareness that we need to re-imagine and re-order how we live. While his primary subject has been the landscape, this portrait brings those tensions and questions into the area of the human body.
Irish lives in Elora, Ontario, with Anna Mark and their 2 daughters. He teaches studio art at Redeemer University College, in Ancaster, Ontario.