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Brian Bourke was born in Dublin in 1936. He is the brother of the late photographer Fergus Bourke and of Eoin Bourke, former professor of German at NUIG. He studied at the National College of Art and Design and at Saint Martin's School of Art in London. He held his first one-man show in Dublin in 1964.
In 1965 Brian Bourke won an Arts Council prize for portraiture, and represented Ireland in both the Biennale de Paris and the Lugano Exhibition of Graphics. He won the Munster and Leinster Bank competition in 1966, and first prize in the Irish Exhibition of Living Art competition in 1967. He was included in the Delighted Eye, the Hibernian landscape and the Cork Rosc exhibitions in 1980. In 1985, he was named Sunday Independent Artist of the Year, and he received the O'Malley Award from the Irish-American Cultural Institute in 1993.
In 1991, he was artist-in-residence at the Gate Theatre's Beckett Festival in Dublin, with accompanying works appearing at the Douglas Hyde Gallery.
In 2001, a large exhibition of his portraits of women, centered on portraits of his son's adopted daughter, appeared at the Dyehouse Gallery in Waterford. He lives in Co. Galway.
His work hangs in many important collections and galleries throughout Europe.
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