Nest by Theresa Byrnes: January 2010

NEST, exhibition and performance by Theresa Byrnes

6 January -17 January - with a performance on 14 January 7pm sharp

At Wilson Street Gallery Newtown, Sydney Australia

In its new exhibition, NEST, Wilson Street Gallery presents the recent paintings and a performance art piece by Australian Artist Theresa Byrnes. Byrnes has been based in New York for 10 years and this is the first performance she has done on Australian shores for 22 years.

Maura Reiley Ph.D, senior curator, American Federation Of Arts commented in 2007:

“Like Schneemann, Byrnes’ work is often characterized by critics as ‘body art’–a term that describes how artists will use their bodies as a literal canvas for enabling political or social commentary.”

This notion is punctuated by Byrnes in one of her most recent pieces called Trace (2007), a performance in which Byrnes submerged herself in a vat of crude oil, and then spent 30 minutes cleaning herself of the thick substance in front of a crowd of spectators on a New York sidewalk. In Boston Byrnes will be performing a new work titled Theresa Tree, a piece that she writes us is based on a question from her childhood: “What is the difference between me and a tree?” A worthwhile investigation indeed.

Byrnes’ painting leads her to a performance and at times performance will come first and act as herald as it ushers forth a series of paintings. For Byrnes both painting and performance art are a means of exploring ideas and understanding better the mechanics of humanity.

Byrnes examines in her latest body of work Nest, our instinct for security and home and contemplates how survival has become double edged. “Home, love and procreation come at the cost of entrapment and servitude to a global economy based on the assumption of ownership.” Theresa Byrnes said. “The other way of survival is through the indigenous understating of custodianship, “ she said.  “In Nest, I use my hair to make my mark in the paintings and in the performance, to prove my being. I build, I paint a nurturing surrounding and find security in my own genetic rope: my hair.”

Byrnes’ ink on paper Nest paintings are intricate and soft; they conjure dream-like buoyancy or the heavy weightlessness of the depths of the sea. In them we see plants and creatures, cloudlike spirits and forms with the seriousness of blood and entrails, fractals and ferns. They are poetic and persist in their flowing detail to convince us of their simplicity.

Byrnes has established a firm place in the international arts community. Her work is part of the course-work at the San Francisco School of the Arts. She has won 2 Pollock-Krasner art awards and is widely collected.