Oisin Byrne

“In bed next to a girl he loves, he forgets that he does not know why he is himself instead of the body he touches.” Here, in The Solar Anus (1931), George Bataille describes a meeting – on the private stage of the bed – in which we do not know who is touching who. Am I touching him, or is he touching me? Is this text touching me, or am I touching it? Portraiture, of people and of locations – rendered through the materials of drawing, performance, and film – is at the centre of my practice.

The drawn portraits are representational, large scale, and on paper. They are likenesses of my intimates – of friends, lovers and fellow artists, often sleeping or at ease. The portrait sitting is a one-to-one intimacy, singular and relatively unmediated. It documents a personal ritual which allows – within limits – a hypersociality and an excessive proximity.

My interest is in the intimate: in those things and people that come so close – so proximate – as to easily be mistaken for a part of the self. I am fascinated by the demarcation of intimate space: in the rules, the allowances and the risks; in emotional hygiene; in easy intimacy and its easy breakage.

My film and performance works look at locations coded for particular rituals set apart – the portrait sitting, the tennis court, the theatre, the chapel, the courtroom, the bed, the dinner table. The boundaries of these playing-fields delimit a field of behaviour and norms, distinct from the rest of life. We can step both into and out of their exceptional laws. Even temporary spatial delineations allow fluid, reversible and sanctioned transitions in states of self, the self allowing it-self to become more discrete or more merged, more measured or more unhinged.

Born in Dublin Ireland in 1983, Oisin Byrne’s practice incorporates drawing, portraiture, performance, installation and film. He received his BA in 2006 from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, and is currently studying an MFA at Goldsmiths University in London. His work has recently been shown as a part of The Line of Beauty at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and in The Temptation of AA Bronson, at Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam. Byrne’s work is included in numerous important collections public and private, and his limited edition artist publication is stocked by Printed Matter NYC, and Shakespeare and Co., Paris. His work is substantially represented in the Irish State Collection.


Currently studying an MFA at Goldsmiths University, London.
BA in Fine Art Painting and the History of Art: NCAD (1:1)
Thesis: Light Spaces and the Self: James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson

– Culture Ireland Award for Universe Cubed, Cornell University.
– Culture Ireland Award for Universe Cubed, Princeton University.
– Awarded SPACE Programme Residency.
– Awarded Travel and Training Award: NYC, 2009.
– Awarded Project Platform Award at the Dublin Art Fair, 2008.
– Arts Council Travel and Training Award: Residency and Exhibition, Canada, 2008.
– Culture Ireland Award for London Exhibition.
– Awarded Project Studio: Temple Bar Galleries and Studios.
– Awarded Arts Council Projects: New Work award for publication and exhibition.
– Awarded Arts Council Award for 2 Month Artist’s Residency and Exhibition in India, 2006.
– Awarded Highest Marking Thesis in Fine Art Faculty, NCAD, 2006
– Highly Commended First Class Honours BA in Fine Art Painting and the History of Art and Design (Joint Honours), 2006.

Selected Exhibitions
2015 GLUE: Oisin Byrne and Gary Farrelly, Groelle Pass Projects, Wuppertal.
2014 Tulca, Festival Hall, Galway.
2013 The Temptation of AA Bronson, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
2013 In the Line of Beauty, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
2013 40 40 40, Touring exhibition of the Irish State Collection: Dublin, Rome, Madrid, Edinburgh.
2012 The Temple of Psychic Youth, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin.
2012 Gracelands: Circling the Square, EVA INTERNATIONAL, Limerick.
2012 LUX, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
2012 A Series of Navigations, THE MODEL, Sligo.
2011 Substance Abuse, Gracelands, The Mimetic House
2011 INHAUS – Portabello Wharf, Dublin.
2011 Three Colours: Blue, SOMA Contemporary.
2010 FUTURES 10, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
2010 I’m Sparticus, Gracelands – The Mimetic House
2010 Radical Love – Blessington.
2010 UNIVERSE.CUBED – Frank Gehry Library, Princeton University, New Jersey.
2010 The Paper Ball – Castletown House and Cambridge House.
2010 Wildly Different Things – New York and Dublin, The Observatory.
2010 MINUTIAE: Oisin Byrne and Suki Chan – Curated by Linda Shevlin, Roscommon Arts Centre.
2010 FACES – Portraits from the State Collection, Farmleigh House and Queens University Belfast.
2009 WHITE OUT – Business to Arts Awards and Presidential reception, Castletown House, Celbridge.
2009 LIGHTWAVE – Science Gallery, Dublin.
2009 Mordant Tales – Eyelevel Gallery, New Brunswick, Canada.
2008 Winter Salon – TBG&S, Dublin.
2008 The Universe in a Cardboard Box – PROJECT PLATFORM Award, Dublin.
2008 bing bang bong – Galerie Trouser and Shirt, London.
2007 A3 Art Fair, Place St Sulpice, Paris
2007 Don’t cry – work! – The Back Loft, Dublin. (Curated by Padraic E. Moore)
2006 it is a kind of magic – Ashford Gallery, RHA, Dublin (Curated by Mark St. John Ellis)
2005 New Irish Painters – Context Galleries, Derry.
2005 Quadrant – Belltable Gallery, Limerick. (Curated by Anya Von Gosseln)
2005 The September Exposition…, Liberty Hall, Dublin.