'Why is there anything instead of nothing' is a feature documentary depicting the artistic and personal journey of Irish/American artist Tighe O'Donoghue/Ross.
From the streets of New York to the wild coast of Maine, and from the mountains and lakes of Killarney to the moon like landscape of the Burren in Co. Clare, 'Why is there anything instead of nothing' bears witness to Tighe's fierce independence as an artist determined to explore and experiment across all mediums without the constraints and interruptions of commerce.
“In truth I have been influenced by a consortium, from the old masters to the modernists as well as the symbolists, the surrealists and most of all the figurative tradition, while not failing to pay attention to abstract design and expressionistic gesture. Originality in my opinion is all and there being an idea behind an image, for I agree with the statement most of all that lasting art is that which invites the viewers to open their minds and think.”
Tighe O'Donoghue/Ross 2015
Tighe O'Donoghue/Ross lives with his wife Elizabeth in the heart of the wild Killarney mountains, the ancestral territory of his forebears. He is a world renowned printmaker, painter and sculptor whose work is in the permanent collections of such prestigious institutions as The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Smithsonian National Collection of Fine Art in Washington, D.C. and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
Tighe was born in 1942 in the Borough of Queens in New York City, where the streets, alleyways and towering skyscrapers had a profound effect on his young mind. As he grew up he became aware of and felt a very strong connection to his rich Irish heritage. Tighe's ancestors built Ross Castle in Killarney in the 15th Century. Six generations later, following the failed Desmond Wars, the family was dispossessed by the English Crown. They were eventually exiled to the stoney soil of the Burren in Co. Clare, and his great-grandfather was the only family member to survive the Irish Famine. Though recognized as the hereditary chief, The O'Donoghue Mór of Ross Castle, Tighe is more proud of his family being notorious Rapparees (outlaws).
Tighe's grandfather followed the rebellious nature of his forebears and was forced to leave Ireland due to his activity in the Fenian IRB. He sailed to Boston from Milltown Malbay on a timber merchant schooner in 1905 and brought with him his Fenian rifle. Interestingly, Tighe brought this rifle back to Ireland in 1986 when he moved here with his family. It now sits over his fireplace in Glenflesk, a symbol of the past struggles and the fight to survive. Tighe also brought with him the tools he has chosen to fight with. A brush and palette. A hammer and chisel. Tools with which Tighe has left his mark. Tools with which he has brought to life the stories and legends of his ancient family history.
'O'Donoghue Rising' (Oil on Canvas)
Family has always been at the core of Tighe's work. His wife and children have all worked with him on countless projects over the years. Several examples of his public work have become quite iconic in Ireland, for example the famous Capall Mór on the N22 main Cork to Killarney road and the 16 foot bronze sculpture of St. Brendan the Navigator in Fenit, Co. Kerry
Although he enjoyed great success exhibiting internationally while living in America, Tighe never felt at ease with the attention and demands of the gallery circuit. On relocating to Ireland Tighe slowly withdrew from the public art scene. He now works from the privacy of his own home, on a journey of artistic and self discovery. Tighe has always been at pains to retain his best work throughout his career, amassing a vast body of work, most of which has never been exhibited. A large number of these pieces will appear in the film, alongside some of his newest paintings, giving our documentary a unique and exclusive opportunity to share Tighe's work with the world.