Born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. After Foundation Course in Belfast (1971-72) he studied Fine Art at Canterbury College of Art (1972-75) and the Royal College of Art, London (1975-78). He was awarded the J Andrew Lloyd Award for Landscape Painting (RCA) in 1978 before moving to Liverpool where he was a prizewinner in the John Moores Exhibition (XI) and worked in a studio at the Bluecoat Arts Centre for over twenty years, returning on a regular basis to Ireland. In 1981 he was awarded a Major Award by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and in the same year completed a Mural Commission for the Royal Liverpool Hospital. He returned to Belfast in 2003. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Ulster Academy in 2006 and a full member in 2009.
Having exhibited extensively in Dublin, Belfast, London and abroad his work has steadily entered public and corporate collections including Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), Ulster Museum (Belfast), Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool), the Arts Councils of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the European Parliament (Brussels) and Allied Irish Banks.
The focus of McAleer’s paintings, primarily landscape; not the particularities of place, but rather the restless, shifting aspects of nature where cloud or water, land or sea transforms themselves atmospherically, one into another. The Irish coast is a dominate source and the memory of it lurks everywhere in the studio. Travels in Europe have inspired a new body of work particularly in the series of railway paintings from Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, where a stronger emphasis on structure again entered the work. Sometimes a visible grid is created and then submerged, abstracting each painting, serving also to release it slowly as the sense of ‘being there’ establishes itself.