Interview with Gerard Byrne, one of Ireland's leading contemporary painters

Palace of Westminster, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

Palace of Westminster, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

Having exhibited in Focus LDN's first exhibition The Art of Regeneration Gerard Byrne takes time to answer some questions about his practise for us.

When did you realise you wanted to be an artist?

From as early as the age of 7, I used to watch my great grandfather paint. I was inspired by him. I found it all to be very magical. The smell of paints, the colours, the technique, the idea of making something from nothing... I used to believe that the talent was in my genes. This gave me a sense of confidence. Only, years later, and to my great surprise I discovered he was actually my step grandfather.

Which artist’s work do you admire the most?

The late Lucian Freud.

At what age did you sell your first painting, and to whom?

If my memory serves me right, I was about 12. I sold my first painting to Charlie O'Reilly, a family friend, who wanted to encourage me to paint. Later in life, he bought several paintings of mine and then eventually he published at least two, if not more, of my art exhibition catalogues as he owned a printing company.  

From where do you derive your main source of inspiration?

From life in general: people, places, buildings, nature, light and shadows.

From which part of the creative process do you take most satisfaction?

The application of paint.

What has been your biggest obstacle as an artist?

Being a self taught artist deprived me of the network of the art world. I've never succeeded in receiving any funds/support/grants from any institution. Finishing my education at the age of 13 and the battle with dyslexia left me with inability to express my work verbally. As we say in Ireland, I couldn't 'talk the talk'.

What advice would you give to an artist trying to break into the industry?

Don't go into it thinking you're gonna make money. It's the wrong approach. Go into it with the passion of creativity and the love of art and maybe than you might make it when you EAT, DRINK AND SLEEP ART.

You can find more examples of Gerard's work on his website www.gerardbyrneartist.com

St. Patrick's Day on Montpelier Terrace Brighton, oil on canvas 108 x 108cm

St. Patrick's Day on Montpelier Terrace Brighton, oil on canvas 108 x 108cm