It gives me great pleasure to introduce the renowned contemporary Irish Abstract Artist and close friend from back home Brian Henderson. This photograph was taken prior to the opening reception at Taylor Gallery, Kildare Street, Dublin, Ireland. Brian, was born in county Wicklow, Ireland 1950 but grew up in the tranquil centre city landscape of Rathgar, Dublin 6. A self taught artist he relocated to New York City 1971 after receiving the prestigious MacCaulay fellowship administered by The Arts Council of Ireland at just 21 years of age.
The fellowship awarded the largest artist grant in Ireland at that time. It was a travelling scholarship where the artist gets to select their preferred destination. In one way or another Brian was always bound for New York City and when offered a down-town Manhattan studio which previously belonged to the now acclaimed English artist John Walker, he grasped the opportunity. This residency would become the beginning of a life long personal relationship with New York City where he lived for over three decades before returning to Ireland recently to live and work in Dublin, Ireland.
New York City became his new reality, a chance of a lifetime opportunity which held many exhilarating experiences and friendships for a young artist in his twenties. Brian’s art knowledge and theory is second to none and there is no better person in the world to be with when he recalls his experiences and insights into the exclusive NYC art scene during the 70′s,80′ and 90′s. I have spent a significant amount of time hanging out with Brian over the years in his Dublin studio and local watering holes enjoying some Guinness while listening, discussing and debating his human exploits as an international artist. See Brian discuss his art and personal history in a very rare in studio interview Directed by Shane Dignam and Edited by Emmet Dignam Irish Artist Profile
Brian is a very rare and talented Irish abstract artist who has developed a truly unique art form which stands out for its bold style, vibrant use of colour, scale and structure. Over the years, Henderson’s work has been consistent in its dedication to the process of painting as well as surface. The grand scale of his work, often executed as diptychs and triptychs, reveals the influence of his time in America and his affinity with painters like Brice Marden and Barnett Newman. However, despite the bold, loose brushstrokes and bright colouration of much of his work, there is a profound complexity to his enquiry.
Henderson’s paintings are the products of innumerable processes – aluminium supports are etched and sanded, primed, overlaid with hot wax, scraped with drywall blades and painted with layers of semi-dry oil – before they are arranged alongside panels of lead, brass, copper or plexi-glass. These paintings are a kind of archaeology for the artist, a stratification of his engagement with the world and a confirmation of his belief in the importance of paint as a medium.
He is an international artist with numerous exhibitions held worldwide. His first solo exhibition was held in the Project Arts Centre in 1971. NYC Soho Centre for Visual Arts (with Ursula Von Rydingsvard) in New York to Cape Town, South Africa. Between 1968 and 1976 his work has featured in six Irish Exhibitions of Living Art; at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris, France (Art Irlandais Actuel, Aos Og) and at the Right Bank Gallery, Brooklyn, New York (The Abstract Irish). He received the Glen Abbey Award in 1972.
More recent exhibitions include Taylor Galleries 2009 Planned Palimpsests, ‘Take Heart’ after 9/11, Relief Show, 23rd St. New York, (2002); ‘Peace’, Side Show Gallery, New York (2004-2005); ‘Works on paper’ Side Show Gallery, New York, (2005); ’Abstract almost Abstract’, Ranelagh Arts Festival (2007);His work now forms part of many public collections including, The Arts Council of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA, the Korean Embassy in Dublin, the Irish Embassy, Luxembourg, the Office of Public Works (OPW), Dublin, Self Portrait Collection of Ireland, the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin and Stockard Channing, New York City.