Today, when Irish people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I would like to write about Patrick. But not the one you might think of. About Jim FitzPatrick – famous Irish artist. You definitely know one of his works – the legendary poster of Che Guevara – the black and white image on the red background. Jim was the one who reproduced the picture of Cuban photographer Alberto Korda on paper. You know the rest – this particular image became a symbol of world revolution.
“When you will be in Ireland, come to visit me”, – Jim told me three years ago, when I interviewed him over Skype. We talked around one hour about his works. Weather, I guess. And about politics, of course. Surprisingly for me, Jim knew Che Guevara personally. They met in 1961. Jim was working in local bar as bartender in small town called Kilkee. It was part-time job for summer. On August day the group of three people came inside the empty bar. One of them had a familiar face. Jim knew that man. It was Ernesto Che Guevara. He ordered whisky. Ernesto said that his grandmother was Irish. Six years later Che was killed. In honor of his hero Jim FitzPatrick created the poster. He wanted that everyone got to know about Guevara.
I didn’t tell this anyone, but that interview – very important for me – was not recorded. My dictaphone suddenly broke in the end of the conversation. You just can’t imagine how mad and sad I was. I also was sad that I forgot to ask one question, which I wanted. Does this annoying that everyone ask Jim only about that portrait of Che? Indeed, FitzPatrick made a lot of other paintings that, in my opinion, has even more artistic value.
I asked my question personally this January, when I visited Ireland for the first time. Jim’s answer was quite unexpected. He said that a lot of artistst stay unknown all their life. And due to Che’s poster Jim left a trace in history. He did. And I got the feeling that I was talking to history. And “the history” was wearing leather jacket and jeans, just like a rock star.
“Guys from U2 live nearby, – he pointed his hand in the direction of his house. – Dolores from Cranberries as well”. After vibrant life full of adventures and wonderful meetings Jim settled in Howth. This costal town is just an hour drive by train from Irish capital. This suburb of Dublin – cosy and calm – situated on the shore of Irish Sea. It seems, that this place hosts the most famous Irish people. And not only them – seals also prefer to sunbathe here. And these mammals normally know where to rest.
After sightseeing tour around Howth Jim invited me to local café where “they make the best coffee in the town”. We found a vacant corner to enjoy it. We talked about Jim’s works, politics and weather (very chilly). Just like the first time over Skype three years ago. But talking to Jim personally was just priceless.