James Byrne: Between the Islands
27th February – 24th March 2018
Landscapes have been inspiring artists for centuries, but few have tackled land, sea and sky with such visceral intensity as Birmingham-based painter James Byrne. In his new collection, on display at Reuben Colley Fine Art, Byrne transports us to the mountains of Wicklow and the rugged coastline and islands of Pembrokeshire. Standing in front of one of these passionately expressive paintings, one can almost feel the wild weather and hear the thud of water against rock.
Byrne immerses himself in the landscape for days on end, making drawings on location. Back in the studio, his paintings develop over time, fed by imagination, memory, intuition and the very process of painting. These pictures express not so much what a particular place looks like, but how it feels to be there. In the artist’s words, they are ‘equivalents of experience rather than description’. Like Turner’s late works, Byrne’s paintings bring us face to face with the ‘sublime’ – the overwhelming and sometimes frightening power of nature. Byrne explains: ‘Sometimes the paintings lean more towards the abstract, and at other times are more figural, but I always want them to be evocative and to express a sense of awe. It’s important, too, that the gestures are a trace of body and landscape combining’.
James Byrne has had a studio practice in Birmingham since completing an MA in painting at Birmingham College of Art in 1982. His work has been shown in numerous important exhibitions in the UK and Hong Kong, including a solo show at the Ikon, Birmingham, in 1986. Examples of his work are held in the collections of Birmingham Museums Trust, Warwick Arts Trust and IBM.
The exhibition runs until 24th March 2018.