Nicholas Byrne (b. 1979, Manchester) now lives and works in London. The artist studied at the Royal College of Art and has previously exhibited at Kerlin Gallery (2008), Vilma Gold (2007), Marc Foxx, Los Angeles (2007), The Reliance, (2006), and Counter Gallery (2006). The artist is represented by Vilma Gold, London.
Nicholas Byrne’s paintings stage a transaction between the figure and design. A particular lexicon of ornamentation, of hooks and optical pattern work within the edges of the composition and formally hold figures, profiles and hieroglyphic forms.
Reminiscent of an era of British painting in which the figure was brutalised, as with the work of Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon and Leon Kossoff, the work has an investment of character in the materiality of paint.
At Studio Voltaire, Byrne presented a new large-scale ironwork sculpture. In the volume of the space the wrought iron scaled down from the ceiling to floor. The work invests in the cultural heritage of Beaux-Arts tradition – functioning as a mural through which to peer at other people in the gallery while also dividing the space.
Alongside the suite of figurative paintings, Byrne presented two maquettes composed of carved bandeau and hook motifs, constructed in plaster, wood and concrete. The forms were cross-sectioned by brass and nickel and are partially obscured by fabric and damask. Enacting the theatricality of grooming or ornamentation and around the height of a standing figure, they offer handles and holes to the viewer on either side of the iron divider.
With kind assistance from Art Bridge Finance Group.
Nicholas Byrne, Divider, 2008. Installation View, Studio Voltaire, London. Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire, London.