John Byrne: Welcome To My World
John is an epiphany baby, born 6th January 1940. 2020 began, then, with a notable birthday and an unreasonably busy calendar that included a new theatre production, in conversations, a television profile, a legion of requests that are patiently accepted and a gallery show. Much of it to celebrate him turning 80 though it’s not that different to most years. We know what happened next and much that was planned is now postponed. Except one, this show. For John life carries on: the solitary world of an artist and the gift of uninterrupted time in his studio.
The show is about John looking back at himself. An autobiography of sorts. Artists have self-scrutinised through the centuries and nowadays everyone is at it with selfies. Unlike the vacuity of the latter, John looks beyond the surface but what the revelation is we, the viewer, are not privy. The double portraits of John talking to his young self are, perhaps, those most easily given a narrative. What words of advice might we offer to our younger selves? Would we listen, if we were told?
John’s imagination is set to a sound track of the 60s: the show shares its title with a Jim Reeves song released as a single in 1964. Alongside the portraits is the Paisley of John’s youth and imagined vignettes of New York life, a city that impacted on him.
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