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Third solo show for the Scottish artist John Byrne opens at The Fine Art Society in London
John Byrne, The Claim, 2012.

LONDON.- The Fine Art Society announced their third solo show for the Scottish artist John Byrne. Consisting of an entirely new body of work, the exhibition, one of his largest to date, is being displayed across two floors of the gallery.

Byrne’s return to painting after two decades of critically acclaimed writing for the theatre and for television has seen his reputation as an artist of great merit grow. At 72, Bryne is living a quiet life in Edinburgh where he paints incessantly. Being happily emancipated from any ‘school’ or ‘scene’ allows him a pleasurable and productive time in the studio.

Almost everything Byrne paints is cultivated from his boyhood memories and his imagination. Byrne was brought up in a dire housing scheme in Paisley in the 1950s at a time when the town was known as the murder capital of Scotland. There is no doubt that a sense of danger pervades his paintings, especially in urban scenes, although he refrains from creating any kind of satirical comment or clichéd, dark underworld. His figures are compelling not abhorrent, and rather than simply creating caricatures, Byrne fleshes out complex narrative threads, drawing immediate parallels to his fully formed characters on stage. The exhibition features some pure landscape painting, which are relatively rare in his output. Describing a recently finished landscape Bryne said “oh, it's of nowhere in particular”'. These works may not describe an actual place, however despite their mysticism they still conjure a sense of specificity via the artist’s technical prowess and recognizable aesthetic.

Although Byrne has never worried about situating himself in the contemporary art world, he has quickly become appreciated as a serious painter, with both commercial success and institutional support. An exhibition of Byrne's portraits is scheduled to take place at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2014. His series of self-portraits which span the last fifty years, are incredibly diverse in mood and conception. Amongst his most powerful work are his studies of those closest to him, memorably of his father in 1970s, of his previous partner Tilda Swinton, a masterly sanguine drawing of whom is in SNPG, their twins Honor and Xavier and most recently of his partner Jeanine.

John Byrne (b.1940) in Paisley, Scotland and in 1965 attended the Glasgow School of Art where he won the Bellahousten Award followed by six months in Italy. As well as being an accomplished fine artist and a designer of theatre sets and album covers, Byrne is one of the most notable playwrights of his generation. His first play ‘Writer’s Cramp’ (1977) was followed by ‘The Slab Boys’ (1978) which won him the Evening Standard’s most promising playwright award. In 1983 there was a New York production of ‘The Slab Boys’ with Sean Penn, Val Kilmer and Kevin Bacon. In 1986 Byrne wrote the six-time BAFTA award-winning television series ‘Tutti Frutti’ starring Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson. This was followed by another series ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ with Tilda Swinton and countless other plays and films to the present day. He has designed record covers for Donovan, The Beatles, Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly.

His work is held in major collections in Scotland and internationally in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, the Museum of Modern Art and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. In 2004 he was made an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and a full member in 2007. Byrne is an Honorary Fellow of the GSA, the RIAS, an Honorary Member of the RGI and has Honorary Doctorates from the universities of Paisley, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Strathclyde. In 2011 he was awarded an MBE.

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