Cian McLoughlin is a Dublin based painter who focuses on portraiture and urban landscapes. With a background in architecture and film studies, he went on to be a full-time, prize-winning painter with works exhibited throughout Ireland, as well as in the UK and the US.

‘Tronies’, Cian McLoughlin, 2017

Where did you spend lockdown?

I spent the quarantine at home in Dublin. As it was for many people, the lockdown was very challenging and I struggled with it in many ways.

Did you have access to a studio during this time? If not, how did you continue to create work?

My access to the studio was very curtailed particularly in the early stages of self isolation, which didn’t help. Maybe I had taken for granted my unlimited access to a studio to paint full time for the past 18 years, I didn’t realize how much I needed time by myself to work until it was taken away. Now it’s been made crystal clear to me how blessed I’ve been, so that’s a positive.

Cian McLoughlin’s Studio

Can you take me through your art making process during lockdown?

In terms of work, the lockdown was a great opportunity to read more widely on the theme of my current work which is crowd behaviour. To date, I’ve drawn from diverse research spanning older, accepted, ‘Classical’ theories of crowd behaviour (Gustave Le Bon and Charles MacKay all the way to Elias Canetti) to the work of more contemporary social scientists such as Prof Stephen Reicher, Prof Clifford Stott and authors such as Barbara Ehrenreich, who seek to challenge the anti-collective pathologising view of group behaviour that has dominated the field since at least the time of the French Revolution.

The time away from the studio was useful to let all these conflicting viewpoints percolate in my mind without the pressure to make work based on them in parallel. This study of crowds has both fascinated and confounded me with the complexity of its moving parts for some years now and the arrival of Covid-19 and the new ‘normal’ has introduced even more variables to how we interact and I plan to address these in the work as this series progresses.

‘Crowds’, Cian McLoughlin, 2020

Did you have any projects that went ahead?

All projects/plans that were on the books before lockdown have been put back as can only be expected.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Towards the end of lockdown I was delighted to receive a call from the curators at the National Gallery asking for two of the existing crowd paintings for a group show they’re putting on as part of the gallery’s reopening. This will be the work’s first Irish outing so I’m very excited to see it head out into the world. That show will run for three months from the end of July.

All photographs included were provided by To see more of Cian’s work visit his website and Instagram.