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Bono Portrait Unveiled

By Irish America Staff
December / January 2004

Bono looked admiringly at the soft white portrait painted by one of today’s greatest Irish painters, Louis le Brocquy, an artist whom Bono has admired since he was 13, at an unveiling at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. The U2 frontman described le Brocquy as “one of the grandmasters of European painting.” The portrait, entitled Image of Bono, is the fifth in a series of commissions for the National Portrait Collection, which already includes pictures of Mary and Nicholas Robinson, Ronnie Delaney, Gay Byrne and TK Whitaker.

Bono said the painting looked “like a head full of ideas — an exploding head.” He also joked about the picture, and in typical self-deprecating fashion, announced, “I look like I am hungover.” In keeping with le Brocquy’s method, Bono did not sit for the painter but instead le Brocquy worked on the painting from photographs of the star.

An admirer of Bono, le Brocquy said, “In the past, I have painted an extensive series of interiorized head images of artists such as Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon, WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney whom I see as extraordinary instances of human consciousness. In more recent years, I have made a number of similar studies of Bono, whose spirit and whose radiant energy I admire so much.”

Spectators have noticed that Bono’s trademark sunglasses are missing from the piece. In response to the omission, Bono responded that it left him “unable to be insincere. All my props are gone.” ♦

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