• November 2016

    HM The Queen unveils new portrait by Colin Davidson

    On the 8th of November, The Queen unveiled a new official portrait, painted by Colin Davidson. The painting, revealed at a reception in Crosby Hall, Chelsea, was commissioned by Co-Operation Ireland, of which the monarch is a joint patron.

    The Queen sat for the portrait in Buckingham Palace, just after her 90th birthday, in May 2016.

    In a short statement, Colin Davidson said: “It was a privilege and honour to have been invited to paint The Queen’s portrait for Co-Operation Ireland. I have witnessed The Queen’s actions to advance healing in the Anglo-Irish relationship, and It is my hope that this painting will help acknowledge her contribution.”

    The painting will tour the UK and Ireland during 2017.

  • October 2016

    HM Queen Elizabeth II

    Buckingham Palace have released an operational note announcing that Colin Davidson has recently completed a portrait of The Queen. The portrait will be unveiled in London by The Queen on 8th November 2016. In a short statement, Colin Davidson said: “It was a privilege and honour to have been invited to paint The Queen’s portrait for Co-Operation Ireland. I have witnessed The Queen’s actions to advance healing in the Anglo-Irish relationship, and It is my hope that this painting will help acknowledge her contribution.”

  • September 2016

    Reflected Gleams, New York

    The Irish Arts Center in New York presents ‘Reflected Gleams’ by Colin Davidson.

    This small exhibition comprises large-scale portrait paintings of artists who are connected to the Irish Arts Center, including honorary chair Liam Neeson, the Muldoon’s Picnic curator and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, 2010 PoetryFest poet Sinéad Morrissey, Olivier-Award winning playwright Marie Jones (Rock Doves), 2011 PoetryFest poet and T. S. Eliot Prize-winner Michael Longley, Oscar-winning musician Glen Hansard and more.

    September 8 2016 – January 20 2017


    Monday – Friday | 10 am – 6 pm

    To view please call 212-757-3318 or email gallery@irishartscenter.org

    Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51 Street, New York, NY 10019

  • Night Paintings - 2016

    September 2016

    Ten Night Paintings

    1 September – 13 October 2016
    Oliver Sears Gallery
    Oliver Sears Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Ten Night Paintings an exhibition of new paintings by Belfast born painter Colin Davidson. An interlude from a near six year stint of portrait painting that has made Davidson’s work instantly recognisable.

    Painting is Davidson’s foremost endeavour. The portraits came when the artist was in his early forties. He had already completed a series based on reflections in shop windows and another of Belfast cityscapes. His first nude paintings were made more than twenty years ago. While it is true that much technical skill and a way of seeing was brought from his previous work in particular treatment seen in his portraiture, it is also the case that this period of painting large scale human faces has added a further dimension of understanding to these ten nudes. Davidson does have a particular style, code and, yes, language which translates from one subject to another and what is most apparent is the facility and natural ability to put paint on canvas. The paintings range in size from the 117 x 127 cm scale familiar to his portraits down to 30 x 28 cm and in each case Davidson has successfully avoided academic cliché creating quietly dynamic dramas that are imbued with human voices that Davidson expresses so personally.

  • January 2016

    Silent Testimony in Paris

    19 janvier – 6th mars 2016
    Centre Culturel Irlandais
    5, rue des Irlandais
    75005 Paris

    Cette saisissante exposition du portraitiste Colin Davidson dévoile les histoires de dix-huit personnes qui, toutes, ont perdu un ou plusieurs proches durant les Troubles, période sombre qui a marqué l’Irlande du Nord à partir de la fin des années 1960. Colin Davidson s’est fait connaître dans le monde entier grâce à sa série de portraits grand format d’acteurs, musiciens, poètes et écrivains, parmi lesquels Brad Pitt, Glen Hansard ou Seamus Heaney. En peignant ces visages célèbres, il a commencé à s’intéresser non pas à leur notoriété, mais à ce qui faisait d’eux des êtres humains. Cette exploration continue de l’« humanité ordinaire » constitue le point de départ de Silent Testimony. Jusqu’à aujourd’hui, l’artiste né en 1968, qui a grandi à Belfast et suivi des études d’art à l’Université d’Ulster, n’avait jamais réagi ouvertement à ce qu’il a vu ou personnellement vécu pendant les Troubles. L’exposition se veut un témoignage fort, reflétant la façon dont ce conflit a eu, et continue à avoir, un impact profond sur des milliers d’individus : les blessés et leur famille, les proches des personnes qui y ont perdu la vie, mais également la communauté dans son ensemble. Cette exposition est presentée en association avec l’Ulster Museum, Belfast, National Museums Northern Ireland où elle a été montrée pour la première fois de juin 2015 à janvier 2016.

  • December 2015

    TIME Magazine Cover

    TIME has always enjoyed the challenge of creating compelling cover portraits. Over the years, they’ve commissioned artists from Marc Chagall to Roy Lichtenstein to Andy Warhol; for this Person of the Year, creative director D.W. Pine reached out to Colin Davidson to make an oil painting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “For me, it’s about the eyes,” D.W. says. “The realistic detail of his subjects’ eyes draws the viewer in closer to fully appreciate the sculptural use of his bold brushstrokes.” Davidson lives and works near Belfast; since 2010 his focus has been on grand-scale portraits, which have won many international awards. “I have become increasingly preoccupied, not with a sitter’s celebrity but more with their status as a human being,” says Davidson. “Although likeness is vital in my practice, it is my hope that a sense of the German Chancellor’s dignity, compassion and humanity is woven into the paint.”

  • June 2015

    Silent Testimony

    5th June 2015 – 17th January 2016
    Ulster Museum, Belfast

    Silent Testimony, an exhibition of portrait paintings by Colin Davidson, reveals the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles – a turbulent 30-year period in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s onwards.

    Since 2010, Davidson has become internationally renowned for his series of large-scale portraits of actors, musicians, poets and writers. While painting these familiar faces, he became increasingly preoccupied, not with their celebrity, but more with their status as human beings. This continuing exploration of ‘common humanity’ is the foundation on which Silent Testimony rests.

    Until now, the artist, who grew up in Belfast and studied art at the University of Ulster, has not responded overtly to what he witnessed or personally experienced during the Troubles. Silent Testimony is a powerful response which reflects on how the conflict has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on thousands of individuals – the injured, their families, the families of those who died and the wider community.

  • May 2015

    Colin Davidson’s portrait of Brad Pitt, completed in 2013, will be shown for the first time in “Eye-Pop: The Celebrity Gaze” at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, between 22nd May 2015 and 10th July 2016.

    A familiar face on screen since the late 1980s, Brad Pitt won a Golden Globe Award for his role as a patient in the psychological thriller Twelve Monkeys (1995). Nominated for four Academy Awards, he served as a producer on 12 Years a Slave (2013), which won a Best Picture Oscar. Colin Davidson’s portrait of Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard caught Pitt’s eye when he saw it reproduced on an album cover. On several occasions, the actor and artist met in London, Surrey, and Buckinghamshire, where they spent time together painting and talking. During these sessions, Davidson began a series of portraits of Pitt, including this one, made just before Pitt cut his hair short for the filming of Fury (2014). The glassy, introspective eyes are typical of Davidson’s noncommissioned portraits, as he seeks “a certain vulnerable quality.” He desires to capture his subjects “lost in thought,” removed from the celebrity persona that we normally see in the mass media.

  • February 2015

    The Hollywood Reporter announces that Colin Davidson will be honored at the ‘Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film’ event, which takes place three days before the Academy Awards, at J.J. Abrams` Bad Robot studios in Santa Monica, Los Angeles in February 2015.


  • May 2014

    15 May 2014 – 26 June 2014
    Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin

    Continuing the theme of large scale portraits, Davidson turns his attention to the ancient, mystical and multi-denominational city of Jerusalem. Twelve individuals who live or work in the city have been recorded in paint. They come from different backgrounds, cultures and traditions. Some are well known, others not. Within the dozen Jerusalemites are Jews, Muslims, Christians, a politician, a monk, a doctor, a peace activist, a hotel worker, a holocaust survivor, a cross-section that lives together with conflict, prejudice and separation. Colin has drawn on his experience growing up in Belfast during the Troubles to identify the tension that exists in every Jerusalem resident and capture the city’s unique atmosphere through the ciphers that are his subjects. The amplified scale of the portraits situated together in the same gallery space heightens the reality that, in spite of their differences, imagined or real, the subjects all inhabit the same space. No other city projects the complexity of meaning like Jerusalem. In contemporary, human terms, Jerusalem, the exhibition aims to reflect the complexity and contradiction of Jerusalem, the city.

    Colin Davidson won the BP Portrait Visitor’s Choice Award in 2012 for a portrait of the poet, Michael Longley. He presented the Queen with five portraits at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast the same year and painted, what turned out to be, the last portrait of Seamus Heaney. He has also painted Sir Kenneth Branagh, Mark Knopfler, Glen Hansard, Brian Friel, Simon Callow among many others. His works hang in the National Gallery of Ireland, the Ulster Museum and the Lyric Theatre Belfast as well as many other public and private collections. Colin is currently the president of the Royal Ulster Academy. He lives and works in Bangor, Co. Down.

    A fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition will be available with an essay written by eminent human rights lawyer, Professor Philippe Sands QC.

  • September 2013

    Opening: Tuesday 3 September, 6pm – 8pm

    4 September – 6 October 2013

    Continuing his exploration of large heads as landscapes which represent the inner self of the sitter, Colin Davidson’s Between The Words is the artist’s first solo exhibition of large-scale portraits and drawings in Northern Ireland. The subjects portrayed are recognisable public figures such as Irish poet Seamus Heaney, actor and theatre director Simon Callow, and musician and songwriter Gary Lightbody amongst others. Almost carving the paint, the artist adds a topographical aspect to his paintings, revealing the tension of the sitters whilst they are lost in thought.

    With their overwhelming presence and sense of grandeur, Davidson’s portraits create a sense of uneasiness in the viewer, with their subjects simultaneously close to us but just out of reach.

  • March 2012

    Colin Davidson at Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin 22 March – 20 April

    Oliver Sears Gallery in Dublin will host ‘Transmission’ the first solo exhibition of recent paintings by Colin Davidson. The latter has concentrated on large-scale portraits since shifting away from urban landscape painting three years ago. Some of his latest subjects are recognizable figures in the public eye, others are unknown. The large format (roughly 4ft square) creates an instant shock to the viewer unused to seeing a face ten times life size at close quarters. But the term portraiture does not sit easily with the artist either. There is still a landscape quality to these complex works. Close inspection conjures aspects of terrain, hills, rivers, paths perhaps. Also included in the exhibition are small format paintings, works on paper and studies for the larger works. Looser in style, they complement the formal works to good effect.

  • October 2011

    October 2011

    The painting Pure To Another (Portrait of Brian Kennedy) was awarded the Perpetual Gold Medal at the Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast in October 2011. This award is sponsored by the McKenna Gallery, Omagh.

    The RUA Annual Exhibition, in the Ulster Museum, runs until 20th November 2011.

  • May 2011

    The painting ‘Thread the Light (Portrait of Glen Hansard)’ has been selected to be exhibited in the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The annual BP Portrait Award is the most prestigious portrait exhibition in the world, promoting the very best in contemporary portrait painting. The exhibition runs between 16th June and 18th September 2011.


  • May 2011

    Colin Davidson has been collaborating with the Lyric Theatre Belfast, producing a series of large-scale portrait heads, to be exhibited in the theatre on an ongoing basis. The series, which is on loan from the artist, comprises paintings of Brian Friel, Paul Brady, Marie Jones and Adrian Dunbar amongst others. The Lyric Theatre opens on 1st May 2011.

  • October 2010

    The painting Thread the Light (Portrait of Glen Hansard) was awarded the Perpetual Gold Medal at the Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast in October 2010. This award is sponsored by the McKenna Gallery, Omagh. The RUA Annual Exhibition, in the Ulster Museum, runs until 14th November 2010.

  • June 2010

    15 May 2014 – 26 June 2014
    Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin

    The painting Just Sharp Reminding (Portrait of Duke Special) has been awarded the ‘Ireland – US Council and Irish Arts Review Portraiture Award’ at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. Colin Davidson will be presented with the award at a Gala Dinner in Dublin Castle at the end of June. The painting will be featured in the summer issue of the Irish Arts Review which is published in June. The RHA Annual Exhibition runs until 30th July 2010.