Bantry faces are on display in New York for Ratajkowski’s exhibition

April 10th, 2024 11:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The artist John Ratajkowski and one of his Bantry subjects, Stephen.

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AN art exhibition that opened in New York last week features a few familiar faces from Bantry.

The artist John Ratajkowski – together with his wife Kathy and supermodel and actress daughter Emily Ratajkowski – have been returning to the family’s second home in Bantry for decades.

One of John's Bantry portraits, Joe.


It was here in West Cork, two years ago, that John realised there is an Irish thread to everyone he knows locally, as well as in the art world in Dublin. Intrigued by certain qualities that ‘runs through the country’ and in turn run through his friends, John set about interviewing everyone he knows.

‘The list keeps growing,’ John said, wryly, just days ahead of the April 4th opening of About Face at the Dacia Gallery in New York’s trendy East Village.

John’s method is to video people while he is talking to them. He said it gives him a better image than a photograph – the kind that shows people who froze just as the camera clicked.

‘I started doing portraits from the videos and, so far, I have 38 portraits out of a list that is now in the 70s,’ he said.

Another one of John's Bantry portraits, Holly.


It was a friend of a friend who mentioned his work to the New York gallery owner, who subsequently asked to see a sample of his work. John sent him 30 images, featuring some of his Bantry crew and some of his buddies in Dublin’s art world, and 15 were selected for the exhibition.

John said Kathy and Emily will be there for the opening night of the About Face exhibition, but eventually he’d like to show the full 70 in one venue. His idea for any subsequent exhibition in America, possibly California, would be to show the portraits and the video interviews too.

Another one of John's Bantry portraits, Deirdre.


The artist admitted he would also like to exhibit them in West Cork – maybe at the Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre.

‘I need a big enough wall – that’s the problem,’ he said. ‘It’s hard to get a venue big enough to show 70 drawings, but I’ll see if I can find a venue in Dublin or West Cork.’

Aaron, one of John's Bantry portraits.


John discovered that he doesn’t like doing portraits from photographs – he feels they are still and one dimensional – but with the videos he was able to stop them and capture interesting expressions.

‘It was a pretty good experiment. I am going to do more of that,’ said John, who confirmed he is looking forward to coming back to West Cork later this summer.

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