maven46 meets: Rasher (R.M. Kavanagh)

The artist who has combatted adversary to become one of Ireland's most successful painters

Words by Michelle Hanley
April 25th, 2017

Photo by Andres Proveda


In the wake of his upcoming exhibition focusing on the effect of technology on the mind and the hypnotic power of streaming and social media, Wicklow-based artist, Rasher (A.K.A. R.M. Kavanagh) talks to us about how his determination and individuality and how it made him a household name after being rejected from every art college in the country.

On his challenging beginnings…

I wanted to become an artist after watching a documentary on Salvador Dali when I was 13; I was hooked but it was an up-hill battle. Having been rejected from all art colleges, I always felt like an outsider and isolated in this industry. This forced me to approach achieving recognition by taking risks and doing things differently. My nickname helped in the early years as it took my career down a path that really wasn’t explored in this country at the time. I suppose the name resonated in people’s heads. My objective was to bring art to people from every walk of life. Nowadays, institutions find it unsettling but the collectors see past it.

On his creative process…

I live with an idea for a couple of years, some are sketched and others I know exactly where I want to go with them. I also use a series of my own photographs to stitch an idea together. Paintings do wrong at times but I use these paintings as an opportunity to experiment on.

On his innovative compositions …

It started when I dismantled an old TV when I was 17 years old. I was inspired by the reflection on the screen; I found the view of my bedroom an interesting warped composition. This progressed onto the spyhole in a door. Years later, I discovered the fisheye lens and saved enough money to buy one. I still don’t know where my work fits in. There are many painters inside this painter.

On his unique style…

I have been on a journey for the last 10 years to understand paint and improve my technical ability but the abstract painter reveals itself every now and then. It’s natural for me to be that painter. It’s my instinct. To be painting for over 20 years and getting through a turbulent financial recession for me is a huge achievement, I think.

On those who spark his inspiration…

I draw inspiration from both past and contemporary. The foundations of my work and technical understanding come from Francis Bacon, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and many more old masters. Abroad I admire the work of Justin Mortimer, Nicola Samori, Will Cotton, John Currin, Adrian Ghenie, Gregory Crewdson (photographer). At home, Shane Blount, Al Freney, Francis O’Toole and Cian McCloughlan are artists who excite me. I’m happy to see art absorbing the urban landscape by Irish street artists such as Connor Harrington, James Earley, Maser, LeBas and many more.

On the Dublin art scene…

The Dublin art scene is very exciting and diverse and a lot different to when I started. There’s an eclectic mix from fine artists to street artists who are all cohabitating together under a creative umbrella.

Exhibition Dates: Saturday 6th, Sunday 14th, Saturday 20th, Sunday 21st, Sunday 28th of May 2017 from 12:00 pm – 18:30 pm at The Dean Dublin, 33 Harcourt St, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2.

Exhibition Launch: Fri, 5th May at 6.30 pm



We’ve got a pair of tickets for the upcoming RM Kavanagh Perpetual Space exhibition’s Opening Night – 18:30 on 5 May! You and a friend will come along and check out 17 incredible works, which focus on the theme of the effect of technology on our daily lives –  ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy on your device watching other people live’

After the exhibition, you can enjoy cocktails for 2 and a sharing plate downstairs in The Dean Bar.

Enter the competition on our Facebook page here.