Kevin Sharkey was born in St Patrick's Mother and Baby Home in Dublin in 1961, but was brought up in Killybegs, County Donegal. His birth father was a Nigerian student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and his birth mother was of Irish descent. With no state supports available for single parents, adoption was the societal norm. Kevin was adopted by the Sharkey family at a very young age. As a child he took part in Irish dancing, which won him 37 medals before the age of 12. He was also a runner-up in the all-Ireland Disco dancing championship at Zhivago nightclub at the age of 16.
His art career began at the age of 12 where he experimented with oils on canvas and bright colours, inspired by the Donegal landscape and scenery.
Kevin has been a full-time artist since 1985 and has developed his art through many mediums, his style being known for abstract, modern work, with bright and textured colours throughout. He has exhibited throughout the world, Dublin, London, Ibiza, Amsterdam, and New York, to name but a few, gaining a reputation as one of Irelands’ leading modern artists, and gathering a strong collector base along this journey. He was also briefly a photographer and a model, photographed by David Bailey.
Sharkey regularly collaborated with Irish rock band, The Boomtown Rats, and German disco group Boney M., writing lyrics and melodies for both. He wrote the latter group's 1989 single Everybody Wants to Dance Like Josephine Baker. Sharkey had a small part in Father Ted where he played a priest named Father Shaft in two episodes. His most famous line, coming after a nun asked him what he thought of all the work being done in Africa by priests, was ``Sure I wouldn't know, I'm from Donegal``. Sharkey was also a farmhand in the Irish TV series Celebrity Farm where he was the fourth farmhand to be evicted. Irish singer and songwriter Bob Geldof was the first person to buy a Sharkey painting, with other collectors of his work including Charles Saatchi, Rosie Huntington Whitley, Michael Portillo, Courtney Love, Whitney Houston, Matt Lucas, and the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.
His art is considered abstract, modern work, with bright, textured colours. His style is also regarded as stylistically diverse with many of his works being visually different from each other.
He has had exhibitions in Dublin, London, Ibiza, Amsterdam and New York City. In 2007 his What Colour Are Kisses? exhibition sold out completely within 48 hours. He has had gallery shows solely dedicated to his work in Dublin, Donegal, Mayo, Boyle, Ibiza and London’s Mayfair. His painting Roisin raised €26,100 in 2008 for People in Need in the RTÉ Telethon. His work has included, Samantha Mumba’s bust and ‘Moolah’ (a life-sized cow covered in €50,000 of real banknotes – during the height of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger phenomenon). Sharkey paintings were also included in the music video of Estelle and Kanye West’s 2008 hit single, American Boy.
His Public Enemy Number One exhibition was on a twelve-date tour of the world (including New York, Tokyo, Rome and Rio de Janeiro). The public figures featured in the exhibition included Jordan as Myra Hindley, Barack Obama wearing Ku Klux Klan robes (made from U.S. flags), the Pope marrying a gay couple, and Angelina Jolie & Madonna passing each other in a supermarket aisle pushing trolleys full of multi-racial children.
In March 2018, Sharkey announced his candidacy for the 2018 Irish Presidential Election, on an “Ireland First“ platform. He later withdrew from the race, calling it a “circus“. As well as being Ireland is first black TV presenter in 1985/86 as co-host with Flo McSweeney fronting RTÉ’s Megamix music show (credited with showcasing bands such as Aslan, The Pogues and Something Happens)
He has also been a fisherman, an actor, a chef at the Hard Rock Café, a singer-songwriter, and a TV presenter. and a cleaner in London to singer Kirsty MacColl. Kevin was at Kirsty’s wedding to Steve Lillywhite, the Grammy award-winning record producer for The Rolling Stones, U2, Big Country, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Morrissey, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Simple Minds and Joan Armatrading.
Kirsty and Kevin remained firm friends up until Kirsty’s death in 2000.
Kevin continues to surprise the art world with his ingenuity and talent, we look forward to his next creations.
Swirling oils in deep jewel colours abstract expressionist in style, pulsating with pigment, life and passion…
Vibrant and energetic…Kevin’s work perfectly complements contemporary interiors…and is becoming increasingly collectable
Sharkey’s reputation as a commercially attractive artist has grown steadily
His bold and vivid paintings are both critically acclaimed and sought after
I never really got abstract Art....then I came across Kevin Sharkey's work and it all made perfect sense
One of Irelands most collectable artists
Ireland's Most Bankable Artist
Most Intriguing Person 2010
I love and bought his work as its unique