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Northern Ireland artist Colin Davidson takes legal action against Dublin gallery

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Colin Davidson with his portrait of the Queen which was unveiled in 2016

Colin Davidson with his portrait of the Queen which was unveiled in 2016

Colin Davidson with his portrait of the Queen which was unveiled in 2016

Leading Northern Ireland portrait artist Colin Davidson has begun legal action against a Dublin art gallery and its owner.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Mr Davidson is "seeking the return of a substantial body of artistic works" from the gallery owned by art dealer Oliver Sears.

The action is to be heard in the High Court in Dublin. The defendants in the case are Oliver Sears Gallery Ltd and Oliver Sears himself. The gallery is located in Dublin's swish Upper Fitzwilliam Street.

Mr Davidson is being represented by Belfast solicitors Tweed.

Solicitor Peter McGrath of the law firm told the newspaper in a statement: "Our client very much regrets having to take this legal action, but believes he has been left with no alternative, as all attempts to resolve the matter prior to litigation had proved unsuccessful."

He also said his client was seeking order restraining the defendants from "holding themselves out as representatives" of the painter.

Mr Davidson also wants Mr Sears to remove all references to him from the Sears Gallery website. In addition, he intends to seek damages "and any other such redress as the court may deem appropriate". The Sears Gallery website described Mr Sears as an international art dealer with "considerable expertise in the field of contemporary and modern art", and who is "passionate about the subject in all its complexities and contradictions".

The Sears Gallery could not be reached last night, but Mr Sears earlier told The Sunday Times: "I cannot comment on a legal matter."

Colin Davidson was born in south Belfast in 1968, and educated at Methodist College and the University of Ulster's College of Art, where he graduated in 1991 with a first class honours degree in graphic design.

Davidson first came to the public's attention with a stunning collection of Belfast cityscapes, a theme he then pursued in Dublin, London and Chicago.

In recent years, the artist - son of renowned figurative painter Rowland Davidson - has painted a host of large-scale portraits of prominent people from the worlds of politics, the arts and showbusiness, among them former US president Bill Clinton, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, former first minister Ian Paisley, pop singer Ed Sheeran and Hollywood actor Brad Pitt.

In 2015 he painted a portrait of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the cover of Time magazine - and a year later he was commissioned by Co-Operation Ireland to paint the Queen, who unveiled her portrait at Crosby Hall in London.

Davidson recently hit the headlines after painting a portrait of Belfast-born TV presenter Eamonn Holmes. The portrait was commissioned by Holmes' wife Ruth Langsford for her husband's 60th birthday.

Belfast Telegraph