My Favourite Painting: Ashley Campbell

The actor Ashley Campbell on a work that 'explodes with vivid, almost graffiti-like strokes'.

Ashley Campbell on ‘Iris’ by Kevin Sharkey

‘Galleries continually emerge in Notting Hill, where I live, but Kevin Sharkey stands out as a bold artist. I find myself captivated by his work – it is an absolute delight.

‘As a musical-theatre performer on the quest for inspiration to carry me through eight shows a week, I find Iris explodes with vivid, almost graffiti-like strokes, practically dancing off the canvas. It beautifully encapsulates the essence of the show-business command: “Full out with feeling.” The radiant circle of colour in Iris mirrors, to me, the rhythmic dance of life.’

Ashley Campbell is a West End actor who will perform in the upcoming Just For One Day: the Live Aid musical at London’s Old Vic.

Charlotte Mullins comments on ‘Iris’

Think of a job, any job, and Kevin Sharkey has probably done it. He has been a fisherman, a chef, a television presenter and a political activist. He has written songs for Bob Geldof and Boney M and been photographed by David Bailey during a stint as a model. He has even appeared on the Irish sitcom Father Ted and won 37 medals for Irish dancing. But it was only as he approached the age of 40 that he unveiled his true passion to the world: painting.

A self-styled maverick, Mr Sharkey, known by his surname alone, is a self-taught Irish artist in his early sixties. Following a difficult upbringing in Donegal (adoption, abusive episodes, foster care), he has had a roller-coaster life that has seen him become a millionaire and homeless, both within the past 10 years. Now, he runs two eponymous galleries in Dublin and London and has plans to open a third in New York later this year.

Iris features his trademark explosive circular design, an ouroboros of dyn-amic energy. It is as if he has knitted together Jackson Pollock’s febrile skeins of colour and injected them with the heat of the sun. Emerald green, midnight blue and tongues of yellow and orange flare across a cool corporate-blue ground.

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There’s a strong market for his accessible abstracts — Courtney Love, Kate Moss and Mr Geldof all collect his work — and his paintings have also appeared in music videos. Mr Sharkey’s own website hails him as a ‘phenomenon’, stating that he has sold more than 10,000 paintings worldwide.