Until recently, John Byrne’s reputation as a playwright all but eclipsed his talents as a visual artist. A critically acclaimed writer for television and theatre and an exquisite draughtsman, Byrne is an artist through and through, and lot 537 in January’s Scottish Contemporary Art Auction is a fine example of his visual artistry.
Girl with a Guitar showcases Byrne’s sheer variation in style and composition. Painted in the late 1960s, this piece likely formed part of Byrne’s first successful exhibition as an artist when he submitted a series of paintings to the Portland Gallery in London. Each piece was signed “Patrick”, a pseudonym briefly adopted by Byrne, when he claimed the work was done by his father.
Lot 537 demonstrates Byrne’s superb and precise handling of watercolour and gouache. Painted in a faux naïf style, this is a marked difference to Byrne’s most recent output. Ever the chameleon, throughout his career Byrne has never let himself be defined by one medium or style and this presents a wonderful opportunity to own an early piece by one Scotland’s most treasured and accomplished artists.
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