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Crumpled on the floor of Salvatore Fullam’s bedroom at his home in Beech Park, Lucan, is a an A4 sheet from a recent exhibition of the 24-year-old artist’s work.
“Hello, I’m Salvatore. I am from Lucan,” the sheet reads.
Fullam, black hair past his shoulders, picks the sheet up off the floor, straightens it, places it below a print of Pierre Bonnard’s The Boxer, and sits back at the foot of his bed to finish his dinner: chicken curry, rice and naan.
“Sorry, I’m just starving,” he says.
Fullam’s work depicts his family life, complicated by the fact that he never knew his father.
Fullam studied at NCAD. He works at Evans Art Supplies off Mary’s Abbey by day.
Last Thursday afternoon, hair tied in a ponytail, wearing shorts and sneakers, Fullam arrived at his studio on School Street.
He paints here three days a week. Outside of that, he plays FIFA on the Xbox. “FIFA. I only play FIFA,” says Fullam, cracking open his studio window. “I don’t have any other games.”
Tucked away in the corner of the room is a small bed, tatty sheets draped over it.
Three weeks ago, Fullam exhibited three works at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery on Chancery Lane.
Scattered around his studio are books on Otto Dix and Christian Schad.
Dix (1891–1969), noted for his war work, is best known for his Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia Von Harden. Schad (1894–1982), part of the Dada movement, is best known for his striking portraits.
On the linoleum floor of Fullam’s studio, Christmas tinsel sprouts from snakeskin boots. Above these, 14 jars containing 124 paintbrushes line shelves. “These are the good ones,” Fullam says.
He carries in a large canvas from the hallway, a self-portrait, recovered from a stack of abandoned canvases.
This work depicts Fullam playing Xbox. Lying in his boxers back home in Lucan, his face snarled in concentration, bed rising up into the foreground.
Domestic scenes fill his work. “I knew I’d have to live at home for quite a long time,” says Fullam. “I resigned myself to living in Lucan. I quite like Lucan.”
Hung on the wall outside his studio door, another large oil canvas depicts his mother Mary with his grandmother Maureen, both sat in their armchairs back home in Lucan.
“I painted them quite abjectly,” says Fullam, pointing to this work, his mother Mary holding a glass of red wine, a tray of biscuits, staring straight ahead.
Grandmother Maureen has fallen asleep in front of the TV. “They do that all the time,” Fullam says.
A Funny Thing
Back in Lucan, Fullam polishes off his dinner.
“I was raised by my mother, a single parent, who lives with her mother (my Nan) and my younger sister,” Fullam’s exhibition note continues. “I make work about my own life.”
Fullam mops up the remaining sauce on his plate, takes off his paint-stained white T-shirt and puts on a loose fitting, green shirt. “Will I show you ’round the house?” he asks.
He lifts his exhibition sheet and hands it over, heading off towards his living room where his mother Mary and grandmother Maureen sit in armchairs watching TV.
Mary pauses the TV. She looks up.
“His art’s improving,” she says. “There’s more colour in it now than there was. Isn’t there?”
“You don’t like it Mam, don’t lie,” says Fullam, smiling.
“Art is a funny thing!” says Mary in defence.
“I love that one on the landing,” says Maureen. “The seagull.”
“The dove!” says Fullam.
“Alright, the dove!” says Maureen. “Well it looks like a seagull to me.’”
Spread across Fullam’s kitchen wall, family photographs stretch back years. One face is missing.
Fullam’s Bangladeshi father left home one week after he was born. “People often ask me where I’m from,” says Fullam. “That’s quite annoying. Because I didn’t know my dad.”
He hopes his moniker, Salvatore of Lucan, puts paid to that question.
His most recent work depicts Fullam in a McDonald’s, meeting his father. Flooring rises into the foreground as Fullam kneels down to tie his laces.
“That was childhood, growing up without him. Learning to tie my shoes,” says Fullam.
In the painting, his father stares off into the distance.
Fullam says that he has “something to prove” with these works.
He is aiming for a solo show at some stage next year.