Horizontal stipes from painted portraits of an older man from different angles. The author and title are in white lower case letters.

A Reluctant Memoir

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Making his name as a Pop artist in the late 1960s and 70s, Robert Ballagh quickly achieved an international reputation. With little formal artistic training, he triumphed in his field despite often formidable hostility. His work was also strikingly topical and political, playing with classic images by Goya or Delacroix to express outrage about the situation in Northern Ireland.

But it is his series of realistic portraits of writers, politicians and fellow artists - often searingly inquisitive and moving in equal measure - that won him lasting fame. His subjects include Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Samuel Beckett, James Watson, Francis Crick, Harold Pinter and Fidel Castro. And his remarkable self-portraits unsparingly document the process of his own ageing. This memoir is also a story of Ireland over the past sixty years, its violence, hypocrisy and immobility as well as its creativity and generosity.


Author: Robert Ballagh

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Head of Zeus

ISBN: 9781786695314


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