The Work of John Byrne

Renowned for his self portraits and characterful style, industrious Scottish artist and play-write John Byrne is the creator of insightful, witty and compelling portraits and figurative work.  Hailing from Paisley, he grew up in Ferguslie Park housing scheme and later attended Glasgow School of Art.  Fertile creative ground, Byrne has remarked that he felt as though he stuck out from his contemporaries but this feeling was not mirrored by the institution and Byrne has since received an honorary doctorate from the University of Paisley, the University of Dundee and Gray’s School of Art.  In 2004 he was made an associate of the Royal Academy of art.  After graduating from Glasgow school of art in the early 0s, Byrne designed jacket covers for Penguin books and he struggled through the galleries until showing a new series of work under the pseudonym ‘Patrick’ for which he was met with success, claiming that they were created by his father- a self-taught artists and creator of faux-naif images.  Byrne’s creativity and versatility was stretched further as he created stage sets for his own productions as well as theatre backdrops for productions like ‘The Number of the Beast’ and ‘The Country Girl’.  He designed album covers for The Beatles, Billy Connolly and Donovan and went on to co-write with singer-songwriter Rafferty.  He illustrated ‘Selected Stories’ by Booker Prize winner James Kelman and created ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ among many other screen plays.  Byrnes work has won popular adoration but it has also been recognised by the art establishment and several works have been shown in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Kelvin Grove Museum, while he exhibits regularly in national and international exhibitions.   This lofty recognition and numerous accolades have not detracted from the charm and magnetism of his work.  Byrne’s paintings are profound and playful and have avoided pretension such status can sometimes compel.   His imagination and complex, innovative creativity is demonstrated in his ability to create countless variations and insights on the same subject-himself.  As we see in his multiple self portraits, Byrne captures a different aspect of personality and outlook in each manifestation and touches the viewer in a way that makes us identify with the man himself. Lyrical, complex, colourful and experimental, John Byrnes art work is among the most distinct and exciting in Britain today.

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