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Thursday, October 28, 2010

J O E B Y R N E : Industrial-Strength; Abstracted Realism, Nov. 12 - Jan. 31

Link to a review from the Free-Times 11/15/10

Watch a short video of Joe's work on YouTube:

Joe Byrnes Ignites ART+CAYCE
with Industrial-Strength Art

G.I.G.O, 42" x 72"


Growing up in Brooklyn and Long Island, Cayce artist Joe Byrne lived near chaotic docklands and bleak industrial parks. His astonishing new body of work draws on an early exposure to colossal steel backhoes, intricate winches, hydraulic pistons, and other muscular machines. An exhibition of Byrne’s photographic-style paintings called “Industrial Strength: Abstracted Realism” opens at the ART+Cayce gallery, 1329 State St., on 12 November with a reception for the artist from 6-9 pm. Gallery owner Maryellyn Cannizzaro remarked, “the fact that an artist of Joe’s caliber lives, works and exhibits in Cayce shows how much we appreciate the Arts on this side of the river.” On view will be a dozen impressive canvases that explore the machismo and elegance that Byrne discovers in heavy equipment like boxcars and in mammoth structures like bridges.
The Bridge, 38" x 60"

Most of Byrne’s realistic pieces zero in on a moving part: a latch, piston or gear. As Byrne puts it, “instead of painting the whole scene, I’m much more interested in editing it down to the minimum. To me it’s the isolation of a part that speaks to a whole.” With technical precision Byrne conveys the tension of nuts and bolts on an I-beam, the force of hydraulic pistons, and the balletic motion of swing levers on a steel door. So lifelike is the image that you can practically feel the heat reflecting off the paint surface, or hear the squeal of a corroded hinge. “You could easily believe that this girder is holding up a bridge or that this truck is idling outside your window,” said Cannizzaro. While these pictures capture the physical beauty of steel, they convey the conceptual beauty of strength pure and simple.

2 Ton Capacity 37" x 60"

Some of these machines have done hard work. Their rust, holes, scrapes, and gouges prove it. Given the planar surfaces, hard shadows, and straight lines, these images of Big Metal could hardly be called “organic.” Unlike Lewis Hine’s 1920 photograph “Powerhouse Mechanic,” which showed a man tightening a nut in front of a huge turbine, Byrne’s paintings imply a human presence through ingenious engineering and English instructions: “open ... seal ... unlatch to close door.” Simply put, these machines are projections of the men who designed, built and used them. It’s hard to resist the thought Byrne’s train car is enjoying the dignity of its hard work. In fact, these positive images celebrate industrial tools as metal muscle.

Joe Byrne trained as a commercial artist and illustrator in New York before he re-located to the Columbia area in the late 1960s. In South Carolina he worked as an illustrator and designer for SCETV and the South Carolina Wildlife Magazine. As a freelance artist, he supplied illustrations for local, regional and national publications.

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