High King Jack is a street and graphic artist from Dublin who gained popularity with Naomh Sìoda Madra na hEireann. Naomh Sìoda Madra na hEireann is Irish for St Sìoda Ireland’s dog; it is a portrait of President Micheal D. Higgin’s late dog. Stained glass windows are plentiful around Dublin, inspiring High King Jack's painting style. Jack, who is fluent in Irish, created a sweet memorial for the nation’s pet with local inspirations, Irish words and a Celtic triskele.
Jack had not painted since school when his friend asked him to join him at one of the legal graffiti walls in Dublin in the spring of 2020. The pair went down to it and Jack fell in love with street art and the freedom it presented; thus restarting his artistic journey and his creating his first mural, the then Taoiseach, Leo Varadker. When Jack was in school he concentrated more on drawing.
Art at home “My parents are architects and always had my sisters and I drawing from a young age.” As I was talking to Jack he showed me the “gallery” in his family home, paintings and drawings that he and his sisters have created throughout their lives. Displayed proudly was Jack’s hybrid of a dinosaur-dog-hamster, he painted when he was six. Jack believes that drawing and painting is all practice and learning; rather than one having the automatic ability.
The Influence of Dublin “Slice of Dublin or a slice of life,” is how Jack described his pieces. He enjoys doing bits of his friends, what he sees daily and on nights out. Painting these everyday scenes in the stained glass window style, Jack feels it adds meaning to them. He likes how the approach is colourful and bright. Jack does work from photos but is not really into photography but will work from pictures at times. Jack enjoys painting murals because he is out and about interacting with people and socialising while he is working rather than being by himself in the studio. He finds doing more graphic styles with spray paint is easier with block colours but would love to get into a more baroque style with his spray cans... he is still experimenting! Jack paints in a baroque style when he paints with acrylics. He loves the dramatic lighting.
High King Jack’s Style “I feel I’m still trying things out, experimenting.” Jack finds his style is still evolving but loves depicting everyday scenes. He would love to try out a style similar to Swiss Italian mural artist, Andrea Ravo Mattoni, who mixes contemporary graffiti and spray paint with the classic Renaissance and Baroque style.
The Effect of the Pandemic The pandemic had a positive effect on his art; he had time to get back to it and try new things with it.
The Dodder Men is a modern subject matter portrayed in a stain glass window style. The painting shows three young men al fresco by one of Dublin’s rivers during the summer. Doorly gives a nod to old Irish stories and themes but with a modern twist.
Art and Study High King Jack finds that his study of anatomy has had a positive effect on his art, the humans are correct in the works. He agreed that he’s subconsciously studying when he is drawing and painting, but he does use it as a break from his course work.
The Future for High King Jack Jack plans to paint more murals this spring and summer when the weather gets better in Dublin, but for the time being, he’ll be sticking to the studio! At the moment Jack is selling hats and t-shirts on his website. Ideally, he would like to go down the garment and merchandise route. Jack’s favourite piece he depicted is The Charioteers. He loved the idea behind it, showing his friends on a night out in the stained glass window style. though, he feels it is still missing something.
The Charioteers portrays Jack’s friends on a party bus last summer. The piece is in Jack’s technicolour, fragmented stained glass window style, showing his classmates with their cans and naggins on the way to a party for a much needed night out! Hell Fire Club is probably his favourite turnout of a piece. The Hell Fire Club is a walk outside Dublin where Jack his sister and dogs went for a Christmas walk. It was a rare snowy day in Dublin when they went up to the infamous walking trail. In Hell Fire Club, Jack captured the chiaroscuro of the Renaissance and the mystery of Romanticism in this genre scene.
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Images provided by Jack