Oisín Byrne: On Being Named

14 April - 14 May 2016
Installation Views

Cecilia Brunson Projects is delighted to announce ‘On Being Named’, our first solo exhibition with Irish artist Oisín Byrne (b.1983). The work shown includes seventeen drawings, a six-minute film, a mural and a text which is simultaneously published in the upcoming edition of the journal Eros. This body of work crystallises around themes central to the artist’s practice— autobiography, intimacy, otherness and game-play. Visually and aurally, the exhibition is at times contemplative and intimate, at times bawdy and contemptuous.


a text

The essay ‘On Being Named’, around which this exhibition is structured, looks at the names we are called – be they insults or pet names – and the imaginative and identitarian spaces they proscribe. An extensive list of verbal abuse, lifted from John Waters’ ‘Mondo Trasho’ (1969), is followed by the artist’s account of a repeated, harried, and traumatic walk home from school as a child. These two excerpts act as primary texts for a theoretical unpacking of the process of naming, carried out in the footnotes. Who-the-fuck-are-you-to-call-me-that?


a six-minute film[1]

The film opens in the interior of an architectural space open to the elements. Painted on to the walls is the outline of a screen, likely the former site of video projection. On the rubble floor, crudely delineated in pink fluorescent tape, is what looks like a game space – a court, a stage, a field of play. Inside this sellotape square: a pair of boots, some oranges, and some syrupy cerisy liquids in bottles and jars. This is somewhere between altar and boxing ring. Something – some performance or reckoning – has been set up to take place.


17 drawings

The drawings are portraits on paper, dated between 2013 and 2016, alongside the name of the sitter. Each page records a single face. The gaze of the sitter is often directed inward or towards a book. Certain subjects are repeated, and of one, Joanna, there are 10 drawings.


a mural

The exhibition walls are lined with a mural, ‘I will disappear, I will have hidden nothing'[2]; a repetitive hybrid-motif lying somewhere between a petal, a tongue and an eye. The mural acts as a freehand print, repeating a manual process on large sheets of wall paper. The effect is of calligraphic, automatic writing on the walls. The marks look at once soothing and decorative, then double-take into something strangely erotic, violent and profane.




Oisín Byrne was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1983 and currently lives and works in London. He completed his BA in Fine Art Painting and the History of Art at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 2006, and is currently studying an MFA at Goldsmiths University in London. His work has been shown widely – notably as a part of ‘The Line of Beauty’ at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), in ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ at Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, and his recent commission ‘Test Screen Divider’ for Project Arts Centre Dublin, to house the seminal work ‘Total Recall’ (1987) by Gretchen Bender.



[1] Teaser (2016), 6min HD Video, Oisín Byrne and Gary Farrelly.

[2] This title is a quote from and homage to ‘Mausoleum of Lovers’, the journals of Hervé Guibert, the French novelist, memoirist, photographer and critic.