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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Paul Rahilly

For over three decades, Paul Rahilly has been exhibiting his lush, painterly works in shows that have been received with delight by enthusiasts of painting. Writing in the Boston Globe in 1991, Nancy Stapen said, "Rahilly's art is almost sinful; it is an art of movement, light, and delight, where all aspects of nature are sensually proffered for the viewer's pleasure."

Rahilly is often called a realist, but the term doesn’t fit well for a few reasons. The figures typically at the center of his large works, female nudes or livestock or both, are generally set in situations so odd or fantastic – beneath towered castles, under absurdly gnarled trees, picnicking beside a mausoleum – that their world is more aptly termed surrealist, or fabulist.

In terms of pictorial execution, Rahilly loves few things more than blurring the edges between one thing and its neighbor, so that it’s impossible to see the boundary between, for example, a leg and a tree trunk or a duck’s wing and the plastic gas can behind it. So what he’s doing, at bottom is painting, and the images are no more important or meaningful in his work than the lines or the color or the clusters and swoops of delectably fluid paint. It’s the visually provocative surface he’s after, not the narrative, and in a sense, that’s more abstract than it is realist. As Rahilly has famously remarked, commenting on the tendency to overstate the role of image in painting, “No one goes to opera for the plot.”

Rahilly's paintings are in the collections of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and numerous corporate collections including BankBoston, Fidelity Investments, and Wellington Management Company.


1933 Boston, MA


1977 MFA, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
1960–63 Art Students League, New York, NY
1956 BA, Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA


1996 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, Finalist
1988 Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant
1988 Massachusetts Artists Fellowship, Finalist
1988 National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Artists Fellowship
1988 Massachusetts Artists Fellowship in Painting


1970-present Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
Instructor in Life Drawing and Painting
1993-95 School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Instructor in Figure Painting
1988-91 School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Instructor in Drawing
1984 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Ma
Lowell Institute Lecturer
1984 School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
1982-85 Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
Visiting Artist
1978-79 Bridgewater State College, Division of Continuing Education, Bridgewater, MA
Instructor in Watercolor
1978 Rhode Island College, Providence, RI
Visiting Artist
1972-73 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA
Guest Lecturer
1969-70 Brockton Art Museum, Brockton MA
Instructor in Life Drawing
1966-67 Vesper George School of Art, Boston, MA
Instructor in Drawing and Watercolor

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