Feature: Sunday Painter | Rodrigo Moynihan

Wonderful work features in this week’s #SundayPainter, from Rodrigo Moynihan.


English painter. He lived in the USA and Rome before studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1928–31). Early acclaim in the 1930s resulted from his part in the formation of the Objective abstraction group. With the development of Social Realism in the late 1930s, Moynihan abandoned abstraction as increasingly isolating and from 1937 became closely associated with the Euston Road School.

As Official War Artist (1943), ARA (1944) and Professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art, London (1948–57), Moynihan received important portrait commissions. In the mid 1950s Moynihan again painted abstract pictures such as Red Painting, February 1959 (priv. col., see 1978 exh. cat., p. 42). After working in a richly impastoed style with a lighter palette, c. 1961 he adopted smoother surfaces with broad areas of saturated colour punctuated by personal symbols or motifs. From 1964 to 1968 he was an editor for the journal Art and Literature.

In the early 1970s Moynihan returned to figuration, taking as his preferred subject his unordered studio shelves in works such as Oval Still-Life: Roll of Paper and Paintbox (1974–5; priv. col., see 1978 exh. cat., p. 52). His tools and materials are precisely depicted in austere and sombre tones, viewed obliquely throwing the horizontal plane into deep perspective. He also turned again to portraits of friends, to self-portraits, and to commissioned portraits such as that of Margaret Thatcher (1983; London, N.P.G.). From 1957 Moynihan lived and worked in France, Spain, the USA and Britain.