J.P. Donleavy, author and playwright of The Ginger Man and other internationally-acclaimed works, began his artistic career in Ireland as an artist. He held his first solo exhibition in Dublin in 1948 and has continued to paint and draw in tandem with his writing career ever since.
Speaking at the opening of his 2006 exhibition at the Molesworth, then director of IMMA, Enrique Juncosa said of Donleavy's work: 'There is indeed a long tradition of the cross-hybridisation of artists and writers from Victor Hugo and Hans Christian Andersen, to D.H. Lawrence and William Burroughs, passing through Federico Garcia Lorca, Henri Micheaux and Jean Cocteau. In Donleavy's case, his writing informs his visual practice. The visual work is also wildly funny, being sometimes dirty, violent, satirical, charming or even lyrical, characteristics that have been given to his literary style. I think his works are a very energetic celebration of humour and life, and manage to distil an analysis of the human condition. His beasts become human, showing us also the animal we have inside ourselves.'
Donleavy's work is in the collection of The Irish Museum of Modern Art, along with other notable public and private collections around the world.