Musical Clown By Markey Robinson
Robinson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of a house painter. He trained at the Belfast College of Art. He took part in boxing matches, under the name “Boyo Marko”, and later worked as a merchant seaman. Robinson’s first exhibitions were in Belfast during World War II. He became better known through over 20 exhibitions of his work at the Oriel Gallery in Dublin, where he used the upstairs framing room as his studio. As well as a steady stream of sales of individual pictures. The Royal Hibernian Academy was another prominent venue for exhibition of his work. He also had a long record of one-man-shows in other venues both in Ireland and elsewhere.
Markey’s designs for stained glass can be seen over the entrance to the Oriel Gallery and also in the window designed by him in the late 1970s.
More than 400 Markey Robinson works can be seen in the online archive catalogues of Whytes Irish Art Auctions
His paintings cover a wide range of subjects, but there are certain recurring features. These may appear separately or in combination.
- Village scenes of white cottages in which the white gable end of the cottage is distinctive. Frequently, there are no windows visible in these cottages.
- Women wearing dark shawls – no facial features are visible
- Sailboats, normally with dark brown sails, or sometimes white sails
- Jugs feature prominently in his still life paintings
- Circus clowns
He painted the inhabited countryside with flat muted colour in almost abstract, almost geometrical compositions.
Robinson died in Belfast, aged 80.
In May 2008, the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister), Brian Cowen TD, officially opened a restropective exhibition of Robinson’s work at the Oriel Gallery. Entitled Markey at the Oriel the exhibition featured paintings and sculpture from the 1950s onwards. A 160-page catalogue on the artist by Paul O’Kelly accompanied the exhibition.
In recent years his works have become popular, and widely faked, as his style is relatively easy to copy. His earlier works are more difficult to fake as they are quite detailed. Robinson was very resourceful in sourcing painting materials and many of his works are on bits of plywood or cardboard discarded by shopkeepers. Many of his best works were painted around the 1960s. Towards the end of his life Robinson painted many of the same paintings again and again as he was guaranteed a good price from them. It is estimated that he produced over 10,000 works of art. He never kept any of his paintings. His daughter Annie is also a popular artist and her works are often inspired by Markey.