Gerard Byrne (artist, born 1958)
Gerard Byrne, July 2015
29 March 1958|
|Known for||oil paintings, charcoal drawings, en plein air painter, landscapes, figurative, floral, still life|
|Parent(s)||Brendan and Kathleen Byrne|
Gerard Byrne (born 29 March 1958 in Dublin) is an Irish figurative painter. His artwork encompasses various themes from landscapes and architecture painted both in his native Ireland and on foreign travels, through still life to the floral and figurative works.
Gerard Byrne was born in Finglas, Dublin, Ireland to parents Brendan and Kathleen. His father worked for many years as a self-employed customs agent, while his mother "Kay" reared the family of six: Brendan, Miriam, Gerard, Pauline, Janette and Irene. He attended the Sacred Heart school in Glasnevin, then the City Quay School and the St Kevin’s Christian Brothers in Ballygall. Unrecognised and untreated dyslexia prevented him from making the most out of the school education. However his artistic talents had been recognised, and from an early age he was encouraged to draw. He wanted to enter the art college but was too young at the time to be accepted. At the age of 14 he left school and got his first job at Clery's, a landmark department store on O'Connell Street, where he worked as a lift boy for 4 years.
Byrne made an attempt to enter an art college but not having sufficient qualifications he got refused. Following his parents' advice to get a "real job" he started an apprenticeship as an electrician. It led him to obtain his dream job: a lighthouse technician. Between 1978 and 1982 he mastered the trade but the innate curiosity made him move on in his life. He decided to leave a well paid pensionable post and in 1982 together with his best friend Fran organised a road trip to Australia in a vintage Volkswagen camper van. The two travelled across Europe but got stuck in Turkey when the visas to Iran had been refused due to the Iran–Iraq War. They made their way to Athens, sold the van in Greece and took a plane to Australia. The two hitchhiked around the continent and made their way to Darwin where both got jobs as flying electricians installing generators in aboriginal settlements. From Australia Gerard made his way back home via Asia, travelling through Indonesia, Burma, India and Russia mostly by train and then flew back from Moscow.
Towards life as an artist
Back in Dublin, Byrne continued working as an electrician taking various day time jobs. The longing to be a painter became predominant though. Gradually he developed an idea to leave the recession hit Ireland and travel to America to earn some money. His plan was to purchase an inexpensive house in an inner city and focus on becoming a full time artist. Very determined to make his dream come true Gerard left for New York and worked tirelessly as an electrician for about two years. Upon his return to Dublin he spent all his savings on a cheap flat in the Liberties. Committed to sticking to his plan he led a humble life and focused on drawing and painting. He would mostly spend time in the local market, painting the people and the local scenes. Gerard befriended local traders, who were supportive of his art and even fed him, often leaving boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables on his doorstep. Finding it hard to support himself he took an electrician job again. However an electric shock that nearly killed him had a sobering effect. It made him fully realise that his true life ambition was to be an artist. By chance he saw a documentary on the forthcoming changes in East Berlin and felt a strong need to be there to experience it. He decided to leave Ireland again.
Making it happen
In early 1989 Gerard packed his paint and canvas into an old camper van and left for Germany. Passing through Checkpoint Charlie in East Berlin he encountered the underground movement whose members had offered him to become an artist in residence. It was a major breakthrough, he became a full time artist. Seven months of working in the streets of Berlin, painting the local scenes and architecture resulted in a solo show of his works. An exhibition was organised under cover in a deteriorated, disused supermarket transformed for three weeks into an aesthetically pleasing art gallery called the People's Gallery. Although the theme of works was not politically charged the event itself was an act of freedom, a statement of the love of art and against the state interfering in the freedom of expression. A few months later, in November 1989 the Berlin Wall came down. Gerard stayed in Berlin through the unification process and shared the liberation experience with his new German friends.
Life as an artist
Upon a return to Ireland Gerard exhibited his Berlin artwork in the George Gallery in Dublin followed by the regular expositions in other Dublin galleries. He returned to America, this time with the sole purpose of painting. In New York he got cheap accommodation in the Spanish Harlem, a rough part of the city where he was the only white European and believed by the neighbours to be a cop under cover. When he came back to Dublin his New York work was presented in the Jo Rain Gallery. In 1996 he exhibited in the Harrison Gallery and took over the running of the gallery for the period of 2 years. Although very successful in managing it he realised he needed to decide whether he wanted to be a gallery owner or an artist creating his art. Once again he made a conscious decision to stick to the idea of being an artist. In 2003 a relationship with the mother of his daughter Clara broke and he travelled to Dingle, the West Coast of Ireland to find solitude and much needed inspiration. He stayed for a period of 3 months painting seascapes of Dingle Peninsula and Great Blasket Island and preparing for the group exhibition in Greenlane Gallery, Dingle to commemorate 50th anniversary of the last man leaving Great Blasket Island. As a result of his break up Gerard lost his only recently renovated home and studio in Sandycove. Shortly after he was offered by a complete stranger a basement to stay and work in a house in Killiney. To his great surprise it happened to be a house with a sea view capturing his much loved Sorrento. He stayed there for three years. Over a short period of time Gerard became close friends with the owner of the house, John. In 2005 Gerard made a painting trip to India and shortly after again to America. When he came home he focused on painting his beloved local Irish scenes: Dalkey, Killiney, Sorrento, Sandycove. His inspiration was fed by the beauty of the coast line, sea, light, local architecture and life. He became known as a local painter. In October 2007 Gerard flew to the USA once again, rented a camper van and drove upstate New York. He spent 6 weeks on the road capturing the colours of the fall. He came back with a number of big format pictures depicting the autumnal landscapes. In 2005 he bought a house in Dalkey, with the idea of having a home to celebrate the arts, where music nights, poetry readings, classical music events, jazz concerts would complement his life as a painter. In time his home grew to become a gallery and was named The Art House. It became a recognised spot on the map of Dalkey, a place where the creative vibe dominated the structure of the house, run not for profit but for love of art, something he had learnt in Berlin a decade before. The Art House was situated in the heart of Dalkey village, directly opposite a well known pub called Finnegan's which is featured in a number of Gerrard's paintings. It is here where in 2008 he met his future wife Agata, a Polish garden designer who was working as a waitress at the time. In August 2013 the artist opened The Gerard Byrne Studio in Dalkey hosting the reception of his wedding the following month. The gallery presented the artworks created over the previous years. In October 2014 Gerard moved to London and marked his arrival with a solo exhibition in The Gerard Byrne Studio in Clerkenwell. His work focused on painting London landmarks en plein air and the new studio works. In October 2015 Gerard and Agata's move to Brighton provided the artist an opportunity to capture the diminishing sea town architecture of the Victorian era, the Brighton Pier and the beauty of the coastal line. His studio work advanced towards floral and industrial abstract. In June 2017 the couple returned to London sharing the time between UK and Ireland. In November 2017 The Gerard Byrne Studio opened in a new central location in Ranelagh, Dublin 6. June 2018 marks Gerard Byrne's return to Dublin.
Gerard's works received a recognition among his Irish contemporaries and became a part of many private collections in Ireland, UK, US, Europe and even Australia, New Zealand and China. His pieces also hang in the Irish Government's Art Collections, in Ireland and abroad.
- 1989 George Gallery, Dublin
- 1990 People's Gallery, Berlin
- 1991 George Gallery, Dublin
- 1992 Brown's Gallery, Dublin
- 1993 Fortune Society, New York City
- 1994 Guinness Hop Store, Dublin
- 1994 Jo Rain Gallery, Dublin
- 1995 Jo Rain Gallery, Dublin
- 1995 Harrison Gallery, Dublin
- 1996 Harrison Gallery, Dublin
- 1997 Bridge Gallery, Dublin
- 1998 Gorry Gallery, Dublin
- 2000 Gorry Gallery, Dublin
- 2001 Dalkey Arts Gallery, Dublin
- 2003 Gorry Gallery, Dublin
- 2004 Dalkey Arts Gallery, Dublin
- 2005 Irish Fine Art, Dublin
- 2006 Irish Fine Art, Dublin
- 2007 Gallery 4, Dublin
- 2008 Greenlane Gallery, Dingle, Ireland
- 2009 Gorry Gallery, Dublin
- 2012 Jun ART House, Dalkey, Ireland
- 2012 Aug ART House, Dalkey, Ireland
- 2012 Dec ART House, Dalkey, Ireland
- 2013 Feb ART House, Dalkey, Ireland
- 2013 Jun ART House, Dalkey, Ireland
- 2013 Nov The Gerard Byrne Studio, Dalkey, Ireland
- 2014 Dec The Gerard Byrne Studio, Clerkenwell, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 May Artists Open Houses Festival The Gerard Byrne Studio, Brighton, United Kingdom
- 2017 Nov The Gallery Opening, The Gerard Byrne Studio, Dublin, Ireland
- 2018 Apr Time is The Enemy The Gerard Byrne Studio, Dublin, Ireland
- 2018 Jun Inside Outside & Beyond Gallery Space, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Ireland
Recent group exhibitions
- 2015 Mar Clerkenwell Design Week, Platform, Clerkenwell, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 Feb Parallax Art Fair, Chelsea Town Hall, Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 Apr Focus LDN The Art of Regeneration, Menier Gallery, Southwark, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 May Revolution Show, The Observer Building, Hastings, United Kingdom
- 2016 May Future Nepal Charity Auction, UCS Hampstead, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 Jun Alzheimer's in the Frame, The Memorable Icons, Gallery Elena Shchukina, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 Jun Alzheimer's in the Frame, The Memorable Icons, The Alzheimer's Show, Olympia, Kensington, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 Jul Pintar Rapido, Chelsea Town Hall, Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
- 2016 Sep Pintar Rapido, Posthoornkerk, Haarlemmerstraat, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- 2016 Nov Naked Eye Gallery, Hove, United Kingdom
- 2016 Dec Focus LDN Winter Exhibition, Menier Gallery, Southwark, London, United Kingdom
- 2017 Jun An Exhibition of 17th - 21st Century Irish Paintings, Gorry Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
- 2017 Jun SKY ARTS, Landscape Artist of the Year, Knaresborough Castle, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
- 2017 Jul Pintar Rapido, Chelsea Town Hall, Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
- 2018 Jun The New English Art Club, Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London, United Kingdom
• Office of Public Works • Irish Embassy, Beijing • Guinness plc • Abraham Foundation, Texas, USA • Deutche Bank West LB • O2 Ireland • Electricity Supply Board • Department of the Marine • Department of Justice • The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin • The Gresham Hotel, Dublin • Sligo Park Hotel • Durkan Homes • Paula Rowan • Gordon Snell • Maeve Binchy • Louis Walsh
- O'Sullivan, Lucinda. "Bright spark's brush with art lives on". independent.ie. The Independent. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- Gorry, James. "Gorry Gallery" (PDF). gorrygallery.ie. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- "Green Gallery". greenlanegallery.com. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- Keenan, Mark. "Victorian Dalkey home is a work of art". independent.ie. The Independent. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- "Gerard Byrne Studio Opening". http://irishcraftupdate.com. Retrieved 14 January 2016. External link in
- Siobhan, Breatnach. "London Inspired New Collection For Irish Artist Gerard Byrne". http://irishpost.co.uk. The Irish Post. Retrieved 14 January 2016. External link in