Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly was born in Poland in 1974. She graduated from Stanislaw Wyspianski School for Fine Arts in Jaroslaw, Poland. She lives in Carlow, Ireland with her husband and two daughters.
“The encaustic medium allowed me to discover new possibilities in art and added texture and depth to my works. Having been brought up in rural Poland, I feel drawn towards robust, chunky and textured quality of wax. Also, as I started to make my own paints, the whole painting process became substantially more personal and the use of wax added an organic quality to it”.
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2014 Celtic Legend, The Doorway Gallery, Dublin. Exhibition of paintings
2012 Ruffians & Gentlemen, The Doorway Gallery, Dublin. Exhibition of paintings
2011 Eigse Carlow Arts Festival “Children’s Songs”. Exhibition of paintings
2009 The Vault Gallery, Adare, Co. Limerick. Exhibition of paintings
2008 Eigse Carlow Arts Festival. Exhibition of paintings
2007 “Familiar & Foreign”, The Bridge Gallery, Dublin Exhibition of paintings
2006 Eigse Carlow Arts Festival “Portrait of a Cousin” Exhibition of paintings
2005 The Bridge Gallery, Dublin Exhibition of paintings
2004 “Daily Bread” Exhibition of paintings in the Polish Social & Cultural Association, Dublin
2002 Wexford Opera Festival. Exhibition of paintings
2001 Eigse Carlow Arts Festival Exhibition of paintings
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2013 “Encounters”. Exhibition organised by OPW and the Department of Finance and Personnel
2011 Wexford Opera Festival Exhibition of paintings in the Greenacres Gallery, Wexford
2009 International Art Fair, Genoa, Italy 2008 Art Forms Gallery Christmas Show, Carlow, Ireland
2008 Spring Art Show, Patrick Street Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland
Encaustic painting involves using heated beeswax to which coloured pigments are added. The wax is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used. The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used — some containing other types of wax, damar resin, or other ingredients.
This technique was used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt around 100-300 AD, in the Blachenitissa and other early icons. Over six hundred Fayum portraits painted on thin wooden panels have survived the passage of time. Pliny the Elder, The Roman historian writing in the first century AD mentions Apelles, Praxiteles, Pausias and other artists from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. as practitioners of encaustic. According to Pliny, encaustic had a variety of applications: for the painting of portraits and scenes of mythology on panels, for the colouring of marble and terra cotta, and for work on ivory.
Encaustic painting was revived briefly in the 18th century, initially by amateurs in an effort to rediscover the techniques of the ancient painters. It was further explored in the 19th century to solve the problem of dampness faced by mural painters in northern climates. The success of these efforts was limited, and encaustic remained an obscure art form.
In the 20th century, the availability of portable electric heating implements and the variety of tools has made encaustic a more accessible technique. This has encouraged a revival of encaustic painting, and it is once again taking its place as a major artists’ medium. Diego Rivera, Antoine Pevsner, Rifka Angel, Karl Zerbe, and Victor Brauner were early exponents of the revived technique. Alfonso Ossorio, Jasper Johns, Lynda Benglis, Robert Morris, and Nancy Graves are prominent among the many artists who turned encaustic into a modernist and cross-disciplinary medium.