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Paul Durcan’s Self-Portraits as Dialogues

Cathy Roche-Liger


Paul Durcan a peint de nombreux autoportraits intermédiaux, majoritairement à la fois textuels et picturaux, qui brouillent la frontière déjà perméable entre portraits et autoportraits. S’il peut faire des gros plans sur lui-même pour se décrire, il choisit de ne pas se focaliser uniquement sur lui-même et de se représenter dans un contexte plus large, en utilisant à la fois des miroirs concaves et convexes. À travers l’art de l’autoportrait conçu comme un dialogue, il crée un double mouvement paradoxal, se mettant à nu et exposant ses fragilités tout en se glorifiant, mais aussi soulignant sa solitude et son aliénation tout en créant de multiples formes de connections.

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Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en mai 2020.


Paul Durcan’s self-portraits between whimsical magnification and exposure
Self-portrayal as a dialogue further blurring the line between portrait and self-portrait

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One of the hallmarks of Paul Durcan’s aesthetics is hybridity. This contemporary Irish poet refuses categories between the different forms of art and writes an intermedial poetry in which the pictorial dimension is prominent. His love for painting is visible in his very first poem (unpublished), a poem about Vincent Van Gogh, triggered by a revelation during a stay in France when he was a teenager, in 1960. Referring to his discovery of la Pointe du Raz, and indicating a pictorial way of looking at the world, he later declared: “I felt that all I was looking at had been created by Vincent Van Gogh”. In the preface to his 1991 ekphrastic book inspired by the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland, Crazy About Women (below-mentioned CAW), he wrote:

An artist such as myself with the two spouses of poetry and picture-making is not looked upon favourably by the chaperones of art. […] Art is not a prison with po...

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Référence électronique

Cathy Roche-Liger, « Paul Durcan’s Self-Portraits as Dialogues », Études irlandaises [En ligne], 43-1 | 2018, mis en ligne le 30 mai 2020, consulté le 19 septembre 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesirlandaises.5489

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Cathy Roche-Liger

FoReLL B1, Université de Poitiers. Cathy Roche-Liger wrote the first French doctoral dissertation on the Irish poet Paul Durcan. It studies his pictorial poetics. She has written several articles about Paul Durcan, and other contemporary Irish poets such as Michael Longley, John Montague, Harry Clifton, Trevor Joyce or Geoffrey Squires. She is particularly interested both in poetry and in the interactions between the visual and the verbal. She is a member of FoReLL, University of Poitiers (France).

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