Sean Molloy

  • United Kingdom (b. 1964)
  • Currently in Dublin, Ireland.




As a painter, my key concern is to investigate the relevance of painting in a digitally-mediated world. This body of work has been constructed by a process of experimentation with a series of traditional baroque-inspired themes, spliced together with over-painted elements associated with digital-based imagery. The traditional elements have been appropriated from sources within the Dutch, Spanish, Flemish and Italian baroque painting canon, combined and juxtaposed to create a series of miniature tondo portraits and capriccio-type fantasy landscapes. The digital-inspired elements overlaying the traditional subject matter reference a variety of sources (C.G.I., games, image manipulation software, glitch-art, etc.).

'Pentimenti' refers to the underlying drawing, the choices and corrections that the artist makes while developing the composition, correcting areas by painting over them, discovered years sometimes centuries later revealing themselves to the modern viewer by the fading top layer of paint, 'Pentimenti' can also reveal when the painter's original work has been corrected, often in response to socio-political, moral or fashion imperatives – or simply through complacent restoration. Thus the 'definitive' (often canonical) work reveals itself as something which is not a solid given, but the outcome of a fluid, changing dynamic. In today's world, there is also a certain impermanence to digital images – we can alter and manipulate them as often as we wish which gives them a certain malleable quality.

My initial access to most of my reference material examined in these works is via the internet. With the assistance of a Thomas Dammann Jr. Memorial Trust Award, I was able to travel to see some of the most important works from the baroque canon in situ. This offered me the opportunity not just to examine the works up close, but also to make mental comparisons between the digital versions and the original works ‒ a process of analysis, deconstruction and de-composition which I then mapped on to the actual making of the paintings.

In the sometimes ludicrous extremes of the high baroque (e.g., Pietro da Cortona), viewers were offered an illusion of total immersion in a painted world – echoing the immersive experience presented at any moment today through a variety of digital portals. In these works, I seek to create what I term 'Neo-Pentimenti' – digital corrections, alterations, interventions and degradings/decompositions combined with the underlying traditional imagery. By using the over-painted elements to disturb the three-dimensional painterly illusion created by the brush-stroke, my aim is to introduce visual interventions which both repel and attract the viewer's attention, creating a new aesthetic, one that subverts the often didactic and singular reading that traditional figurative painting presents.

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Sean Molloy wears his love of the old masters on his sleeve in recent works, painting quite literal reproductions of what look like seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century Dutch and French landscapes. Yet for all their period specificity, these images remain next to unidentifiable. They might be details of more iconic works, generic stand-ins for pastorals of the past, but Molloy considers the past as not entirely retrievable, and various formal devices inflect his bucolic vistas. Horizontal, vertical, and diagonal stripes, bars, and blocks; overall grids; more localized phenomena that evoke areas of pixilation; and, in one instance, a reversal of tone that recalls solarization disrupt the pictorial field. The forms often recall those of modernist abstraction, but equally the glitches of digital imaging. They bar us from entering into these landscapes, ambling among these Classical and staffage figures, and remind us of our distance, cultural and technological, from the solace of the natural world of our ancestors. Paradise lost.

Joseph Wolin (critic and curator)

January 2019



2011 – 2013   MFA National College of Art & Design (NCAD)

2008- 2011   BA (Hons) 1st class Fine Art Painting NCAD

1999- 2000 Glasgow School of Art Fine Art Painting

1998- 1999   University of Brighton Fine Art Painting


2016 - 2022 Artist in Residence Cloverhill Prison (Arts Council funded Visual Artists in Prison Scheme)

2018 Artist in Residence Stephen McKenna PPRHA Studio residency, Bagenalstown, Co, Carlow


2023  Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary

2022  Arts Council Bursary award

2022  Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary

2021  Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary

2020  RHA Really Helping Artists Micro Grant Award

2020  Fingal County Council Public Art Commission

2020  Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary

2019  Fingal County Council Artists Support Scheme bursary

2017  RHA studio residency  Jan 27th - July 27th

2016  Fingal County Council Artist's Support Scheme bursary

2016  Thomas Dammann jr. Memorial Trust Award

2015  Thomas Dammann jr. Memorial Trust Award

2014   K&M Evans Painting Prize (184th RHA Annual Exhibition)

2013    Longlisted for Saatchi New Sensations Prize

Art Fairs

2020 London Art Fair, (Bo.Lee Gallery) Business Design Centre, Islington Jan 22nd - 26th

2019 London Art Fair, (Gibbons & Nicholas) Business Design Centre, Islington Jan 16th - 20th

2018  CI'18 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair with Gibbons & Nicholas Sept 20th -23rd

2017   CONTEXT New York, with Gibbons & Nicholas, May 3rd - 7th

2016   CONTEXT New York, with Gibbons & Nicholas, May 3rd - 8th



Link to Art In Ireland interview ('Simulations' Solstice Arts Centre 2017)

Sean Molloy : Simulations | Art in Ireland TV

Link to: Irish Times 'The best art shows to see this week' by Gemma Tipton (1/9/2017)


Link to: Irish Arts Review 'Decompositions' by Seán Molloy (20/12/2015)


Link to: Lacuna (01) Taylor Gallery curated by Sabina Mac Mahon & David Quinn

Link to: 'Paintings As They Are' Painttube article posted by Robert Armstrong (5/11/2013)


‘Sean Molloy’s paintings provide an eloquent treatise on the activity of remembering and are grounded in interpretations of psychology and art history… the totality of the experience of these works is happily a formalistic delight. They combine vibrancy with understatement, constant thematic engagement with reflective restraint and they manage their not inconsiderable substance with skill and authority’

‘The Post-Modern Advance’, by Gerry Walker, Irish Arts Review, vol. 28 No. 3, September – November 2011

‘Mind the paintwork’, by Christín Leach, Culture Magazine, Sunday Times, Sunday 24th June 2011

‘A challenging, fresh take on a battered world’, by Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, Friday 17th June 2011