Theresa Byrnes
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theresa byrnes selected paintings


Recent paintingsTHERESA BYRNES

Opening Reception

6 – 9pm Friday Feb 11

FEB 11 thru March 6

True beauty is not shiny, packaged, new, modified, augmented but the graceful death of matter.

After September 11th 2001 the imperative to make paintings archival, to exist for centuries, seemed suddenly ludicrous. The vulnerability of the human species and its civilizations became central to my concept of beauty and art. Histories, lives, architecture blown to bits, fragments of shelter, weather-worn - that is material to be relied on.

I paint on old plywood fragments; I let its decay direct the becoming of the painting. My works on paper use oil, salt water and human hair. It is a mix we spill into the oceans. I use what we want to hide and forget as a medium; as an artist that is a powerful pigment. I harness the results of destruction to make art, to find beauty in our missteps and to document them.

Glamour has a past; to achieve its polish requires cultural hegemony; to resist is to re-define beauty.

“ . . . Byrnes is a provocateur whose sometimes uncomfortable offerings are designed to provoke a reaction in her audience. And by placing her body and mind at the centre of her art she challenges her own interpretation and her own vision. It is no surprise that her work has a strong evolutionary thread. It is organic, earthy, and, like the cycle of life theme of many of her paintings, it grows. Uncompromisingly she is woman channeling life, death, fear and joy, through an exposed, vulnerable human shell. It is all on the line, and that is the wonder of Byrnes’ art." - Martin Newman, art critic The Daily Mirror, London, 2010.


Theresa Byrnes began to exhibit her paintings in 1986 at the age of 16. She began performance art in 1988 and it has become an integral part of her arts practice. In 1996 Theresa founded the Theresa Byrnes Foundation Inc., which funded a research fellowship to further gene-transfer therapy. Byrnes published her autobiography ‘The Divine Mistake’ in 1999 (Pan Macmillan, Australia). Theresa moved to New York in 2000.


Suffer  616 E 9th Street (between B & C)  HOURS  Thursday–Sunday 2–6pm

Opening Reception
2 to 6 PM Saturday Dec 11
Dec. 11 thru Jan 7

Daniela Mamon

“These dolls are a product of my desire to invent characters, adorn them and bring them to life."

Born in 1979, raised in New York City's East Village, Daniela went to La Guardia High School for art.  She learned to sew as a teenager, patching holes in pants, making patchwork skirts by hand and also making beaded jewelry. Daniela's dolls fall into to the newly termed genre of SUPERCRAFT.

"My dolls are beings not remote as art can be, dolls are friends ask any child, they'll say it is so."

Theresa Byrnes

"I do not push pigment around with a brush to make something that I think is beautiful; I give fluid-color a surface to reveal beauty on."

Born in 1969, raised in Australia, Theresa began to exhibit her painting in 1986 and moved to New York in 2000. The works in this exhibition were shown at Saatchi & Saatchi New York in 2006. Theresa guides ink and water combinations to move & react within their own chemical nature.

"Light, space and time blur into one, seeming to be truth but really it is just blurring – painting."

Antony Zito

"I collect stuff left unwanted - deemed obsolete, devoid of function - and invest it with new energy - a tangential excursion on the way to landfill."

Born in 1969, raised on a farm in the woods of Connecticut, Zito moved to the Lower East Side of New York in 1992. The New York Post has called his portrait paintings "sensual" and his renderings of people on recycled materials other than canvas have prompted The Village Voice to refer to him as "a master of the found object".  


Tunde Adebimpe

Musician & artist, born in 1975, Tunde moved to New York in 1993 to make comics. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has worked for various productions as a director and animator. Tunde is best know as the lead singer of the band TV on the Radio.

At 6pm every Saturday during the course of this exhibition
Tunde‘s new animated short
SNACKS & TRACKS will be screened.


Theresa Byrnes premieres her 2010 performance art piece for the Howl Festival.

Her performance pushes you off the cliff of old ways of thinking but leads you to other roads to think down. She intends to keep you mentally and spiritually on the move.

Theresa Byrnes began to exhibit her paintings in 1986 at the age of 16 with painting as her core medium. She began performance art in 1988 and it has become integral to her arts practice. Byrnes published her autobiography ‘The Divine Mistake’ in 1999 (Pan Macmillan, Australia). Theresa moved to New York in 2000.  She has lived in the East Village for 10 years. Byrnes has exhibited with Saatchi & Saatchi and performed for numerous galleries and Howl Festivals.

This, her new performance THE MEASURE OF MAN re-evaluates man’s perfection and God’s supremacy and reminds us of the supremacy of nature.

Leonardo Davinci’s anatomical drawing THE VITRUVIAN MAN heralded the age where the perfection of man was central to all things and encouraged progress and excellence in the individual and in society.  The assertion of the centrality of the human soul in the order of creation is an idea Theresa challenges.

The performance THE MEASURE OF MAN is a one-hour, one time only performance, it will be a Howl event not to be missed! On September 10, 8-9pm. viewers will stand and sit on the sidewalk outside the store window that is Byrnes’ new project space (Suffer, 616 E9th Street between Aves B & C, NYC), and watch through the full glass front of the space as Byrnes’s latest performance unfolds over the course of an hour.

"Byrnes’ performance pieces place her amid the ranks of a purist avant-garde of artists operating at the fringe of contemporary art in America today. I say purist, because for them there are few boundaries or taboos. As part of a well-established genre of experimental performance and body art dating back to the 1960s and ’70s, the Australian’s shows are both fearless and confronting. Her works are contemporaneous, often attune to environmental concerns, but she also shares the sensibility of an older generation of feminist artists like the late Nancy Spero. Byrnes is a provocateur whose sometimes uncomfortable offerings are designed to provoke a reaction in her audience. And by placing her body and mind at the centre of her art she challenges her own interpretation and her own vision. It is no surprise that her work has a strong evolutionary thread. It is organic, earthy, and, like the cycle of life theme of many of her paintings, it grows. Uncompromisingly she is ’woman’ channeling life, death, fear and joy, through an exposed, vulnerable human shell. It is all on the line, and that is the wonder of Byrnes’ art."

Martin Newman, art critic The Daily Mirror, London



Photos – Greg Weight from NEST performance 2009


PRESS RELEASE — SUFFER - Theresa Byrnes Studio & Project Space - Inaugural opening.
SATURDAY JULY 31 - 5PM THRU 9PM - 616 East 9th Street, storefront east (Between Avenue B & C)

Theresa Byrnes, artist and long time member of the LES arts community, celebrates her 10th year of residing downtown by opening her own project space called, SUFFER.

SUFFER, a storefront on East 9th Street, is now her studio where she will paint her acclaimed children's portraits by commission, develop her abstract painting in conjunction with her controversial performance art and host occasional benefits for her chosen causes. Like many artists of the past and present, Theresa funds her avant-garde work with portrait commissions. She now has not-for-profit, 5o1c status and is accepting donations to develop and produce her paintings and performances that are direct social commentary.

SUFFER is located at 616 East 9th Street between B & C in Alphabet City. The block is blossoming with VOZ Vintage Boutique, The Phatory Art Gallery, Andrew Stroka Photographic Studio/Gallery, Louis Jazz bar, BRIX wine store, Esperanto restaurant at the end of the block opposite La Plaza cultural community garden and the best coffee in NYC, across the road at 9th Street Espresso next to Banjo JimÕs for beer and live music. Tompkins square crowns the top of the block and further down, the old Charas community center still remains derelict, awaiting development. Theresa hopes Charas will become The LES Museum.

Performers, writers, photographers, musicians and filmmakers live on the block, including the acclaimed Bina Sheriff. In the 1970s, SUFFER was a meeting place for the Black Panthers, and in 1905, it was an archway for horses that were led to stables that are now La Plaza community garden. “ I feel honored to be in a building steeped in such history of both radical social change and essential transportation for the development of the city. May the struggle continue! ”

SUFFER store front

Theresa moved from Australia to New York in 2000, on the back of the launch of her Autobiography THE DIVINE MISTAKE. She has performed at Saint Mark’s Church, at Theater for the New City and participated in numerous HOWL festivals. Theresa moved her art studio to Chelsea four years ago and now she is back, painting in the hood that she calls home.

Why did you call your new project space SUFFER?

“I believe that suffering is an initiation into greater things in life and in art. I encourage people to go into their suffering, not avoid it. To suffer makes space in which to release stagnant identity, fueling revolution and transformation. They say ignorance is bliss; well, I say denial portends evil.”

It sounds dark. Is this really a fetish store?

“On the contrary. The space is white, bright, light and all about potential. People tend to take themselves so seriously, thinking that humanity is the be-all and end-all. In truth, we are newcomers, evolutionarily speaking. There is a glitch in human consciousness by which we think we are the only life form with it (consciousness) and we are concerned mainly with our immediate preservation and comfort, at any cost.”

Okay, but how does this relate to your art & new space?

“When people enter SUFFER to view recent painting, a benefit exhibition or attend a screening or performance, they will find a whole bunch of new ideas, ways of thinking and being. Maybe if we start emitting oxygen from our pores instead of churning out trillions of gallons of pollutants and toxins, weÕd become important and not obnoxious.”

UPCOMING EVENTS: July - Selected paintings by Theresa Byrnes 2000 — 2010. September - benefit art auction for PATH, a volunteer organization, rescuing animals from the recent oil spill. Open times: SAT & SUN, 3-7pm thru summer, more open times depend on events. To be placed on the mailing list:
For 5o1c sponsorship:
For info email:

Nest #3, 2009, ink on paper, 101.6 X 64.7cm

Wednesday 6 Januray to Sunday 17 January 2010
Performance: Thursday 14 January at 7pm sharp
Wilson Street Gallery
Wednesday to Sunday 11am - 6pm
30-34 Wilson Street Newton 2042
ph 02 9516 3144

Press release:

In it's 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. The other way of survival is through the indigenous understating of custodianship. In Nest, in the paintings and in the performance I use my hair to make my mark, 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.

NEST will be open during The Festival Of Sydney. It will be available for viewing from Wednesday 6th January to Sunday 17 January at Wilson Street Gallery, 30 Wilson Street

curated by Jazz-minh Moore
August 17 - 21,2009 *ONE WEEK ONLY*
Opening Reception - Monday, August 17th, G-9 pm
-SpeciaI appearance by Darryl Looney of Da Phatfunk Clique electric funk violin starting at 8 pm
-Reception sponsored by Figenza Mediterranean Vodka
Film Night- Wednesday, August 19th, 7-9 pm
a night of short films by contemporary NYC artists

Golnar Adili, Nivi Alroy, Hillary Atiyeh, Theresa Byrnes, Kristin Cammermeyer, Carleton Christy, Brian Dettmer Cara Enteles, Chantel Foretich, Megan Greene, Tracy Lang, Nicola Lopez, Jeremiah Maddock, Darcy Miro

Film Night: Susan Buice, Theresa Byrnes, Sabina Vajraca, Jeff Sims, Nicole Wittenberg and more.

Process leads to knowledge and transformation. Research supports the idea that the mind works best while wondering; some of wor|dÕs greatest rnnovations/inventions were the product of a daydream, or sudden insight. "Our brain may be most actively engaged when our mind is wandering and weÕve actually lost track of our thoughts." (Dr Kunros, A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insrght, The Wall Street Journal, Friday, June 19th, 2009) "These sudden insights are the culminatlon of an intense and complex series of brain states that require more neural resources than methodical reasoning. People who solve problems through rnsrght generate different pattems of brain waves than those who solve problems analytically."

Prozess showcases a collectlon of artists for whom technique is a combination of intultion, insight and labor intensive physical process. Though mediums vary, from drawing and painting, to sculpture, photography, film and metals, each work displayed is a visual record of the artists unique methods. Much of the work is reflective of an organic, human experience, within an industrialized world.
In many cases, these artists create work the way a blrd bullds a nest.

Curator, Jazz-minh Claire Moore, is a Greenwich Village based artist. Her work has been exhibrted extenslvely, and may be viewed at

theresa byrnes*** NEWS

As of June 15th 2009, I am sub-letting my beautiful Chelsea art studio to London based Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyasto.

For 10 months I will base myself in my East Village apartment and finish writing my new memoir and take 3 portrait commissions.

It has been a very productive year for me. I have had two solo shows, REVOLUTION REVOLVE & NEST, and reviews in London and in New York. This month I am on the cover and featured in Link magazine.

Wednesday thru Saturday June 3 – 13, I am opening my studio to selected friends and colleagues to look through my small paintings, un-exhibited work, explore past work in my storage area, see new work on the walls and possibly pick up a bargain.

I will miss my studio and hope you will come and visit my space in the next 2 weeks!

 562 West 26th Street
Studio # 1003

JUNE 3 - 14
Wednesday – Friday 4 – 7pm
Saturday 2 - 6pm

or by appointment

Cel – 917 407 7386




NEST a performance and new paintings by THERESA BYRNES

Friday, May 15, 2009 7pm until 9:30

@ Heide Hatry’s loft, in Williamsburg.
475 Kent Avenue Suite 803 - 8th floor Brooklyn, NY

Hair traces human genetics and is our rope back to the beginning of existence.
Nest is a series of paintings made from the imprint of human hair.  

Revolution toward liberty and survival is not so much found through violent or shocking change as it is in allowing the inherent and constant nature of all beings - to nest.  

The current world economy is based on ‘ home as property’ escalating to land theft so large that it warrants massacre, genocide and slavery. Law is established to protect the illusion of ownership. But no-one owns life or land, we are custodians not lords. Tenancy is just as valuable as ownership, without occupancy property crumbles - the revolution is “to nest”.  

A system of social order collapsing is a sign of evolution, a progression of the human psyche toward a more humanistic civilization. My performance is to make a nest painting with my own hair and body.



Theresa Byrnes

Revolution Revolve

"Life is to revolve, to repeat- but it is also to evolve, breakthrough & explode."

Revolution Revolve; a collection of new paintings, mobiles, and short videos by Australian artist Theresa Byrnes. Theresa's works explore the tensions between life and death, and the way in which forces of creation and those of destruction animate the world. Theresa distills and focuses these huge, abstract concepts through physical processes of creation and destruction in her paintings and performance pieces.

The paintings and mobiles contemplate circles -- concentric, overlapping, bleeding into one another, or orbiting as distinct autonomous units. Circles serve as delimiting shapes (e.g. "wish pond") as well as the features of interior landscapes . The origin of the form can be located in a single ink drop, spreading into larger and larger nipple-like forms (e.g. "boob spiral"), evoking all different manifestations of life ā€” planets, cells, breasts, cross-sections of trees, coins. It reminds us that our core is circular; that momentum is geared toward revolution and change, but that the mechanics of this is repetition.

"It is our duty --- to contemplate and be hyperconscious of our patterns of behavior and belief."


February 20, 2009

Films On Artists is a new media production company in West Chelsea, dedicated to creating dynamic films about contemporary emerging artists. The panel will discuss the concept of creating video documentaries about the creative process and their role in both illuminating the artists intent and marketting their work
Moderator: Kevin OÕHanlon, owner/director,
Panelist: Theresa Brynes, painter
Andreas Rentsch, photographer
Richard Laurent, painter
Michelle Vargas, editor
Organizer: Ann Lydecker, Program dir. ATOA
Kevin OÕHanlon
Kevin OÕHanlon
January - April 2009

Presentation by Artists Talk On Artists: ATOA

Friday Evenings at 7:00 pm
The School of Visual Arts (SVA)
209 East 23rd Street, NYC
in the Amphitheater

(unless otherwise noted)

theresa tree performative art piece

Two invitations:

Pool Art Fair Miami Beach
1320 Ocean Drive @ 13th
Miami Beach, FL 33139
December 7 - 9, 4 - 10pm

Roving Eye
Roving Eye New York 2007/08 is the fourth in a series of annual exhibitions organised by Advance, to highlight current works by Australian artists working beyond Australia's borders and this year featuring shows in both New York and London.

Opening Reception
Thursday December 13, 2007, 6 - 8pm

Exhibition December 11, 2007 - January 12, 2008

511 West 25th Street New York NY 10001

Me Meat We War screening at Pioneer Theatre Director Theresa Byrnes

invitation to TRACE performance art at HOWL lower East Side New York director Margarite VanCook


TRACE a performance by Theresa Byrnes

Exploring our spiritual relationship with crude oil.


Crude oil is the blood of the planet, created by the compression and heating of ancient organic materials over geological time. Oil is formed from the preserved remains of prehistoric zooplankton and algae, which have settled to the sea (or lake) bottom in large quantities under anoxic conditions.


TRACE contemplates our relationship with Crude oil; liberated by and victims of its exploitation – the substance of time immemorial, we are caught in the middle. We struggle to define our role in this archetypal ménage that could lead us toward annihilation.


The earth is our body, a holy ground of all matter recycling itself. The spiritual lesson inherent in our dependency on; destruction of the environment for; and geo political warfare to gain control of crude oil may be to respect and connect our lives to our ancestry going back to the beginning of life on earth.


TRACE is a 30-minute performance. One night only!

531 East 13th Street, Howl festival Theatre, Sunday September 9, 2007 from 7.30 - 8 pm.

Entry by donation.


Simplicia and the tick. Staring Guenevere Donohue as Theresa Byrnes.

theresa simplicia and actor guenevere donohue


Oral Histories of the East Village Onstage at metropolitan Playhouse

An all new series of real-life Lower East Side stories.

(Avenue A solo series) 3 solos in one night

Wednesday August 8th at 8PM

Saturday August  11th at 8PM

Friday August 17th at 8PM

Sunday August 19th at 2PM

Reservations: 212 995 5302

Metropolitan Playhouse proudly announces our 4th series of all new solo-performances

celebrating the neighborhood heros of the East Village

... in their own words.


$15 one show

$10 for a second

Directed by Derek Jamison

Metropolitan Playhouse

220 East Fourth Street

New York, New York 10009

Office: 212 995 8410  Tickets:  212 995 5302

Theresa Byrnes
June 28 through June 30, 2007
Rogue Space is pleased to announce an exhibition
of new ink paintings by Theresa Byrnes. This is the
artist’s second exhibition with Rogue space.
Byrnes often refers to her studio as a laboratory,
and equates this current work to that of a mad
scientist creating creatures. Water, fabric and
maternal love are the commonalties at all human
birth; it is these elements that Byrnes utilizes
to create "Beings".
Byrnes develops unique techniques to
accommodate her intention for each new series,
building crude apparatus to help realize specific
For "Beings" Byrnes created an elevated bamboo
canopy. Beneath it Byrnes lays large sheets of
paper, then wet fabric, applies ink directly to it,
and finally pours mixed inks and water through the
4ft high canopy. After a week of drying the fabric
is peeled up to reveal each new "being".
Byrnes’ painting roots are in portrait painting.
Since 1996 she has been exploring abstraction.
Byrnes’ grounding in portraiture and oil painting
enables her to fully release into the abstract,
giving her abstract work a distinctively humanistic quality.
Byrnes was born in Australia in 1969. She lives
and works in New York.
New York to Sydney

You are invited to a performative work for film by Theresa Byrnes

Theresa Byrnes Studio
526 West 26th Street
Studio 1003

Friday, September 29th, 2006
6 to 8PM

Contact: Bobbi Bennett 212-729-6368

Fractals of Thought

ink paintings by theresa byrnes

 Exhibition Dates – opening September 28 until October 21 2005

Sponsored by - air tahiti nui & saatchi & saatchi


Embassy of Australia
1601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-2273
t. 1 202 797 3176
f. 1 202 797 3414

“Light, space and time blur into one, seeming to be truth but really it is just blurring – painting.”

 Based in New York since 2000, Australian artist Theresa Byrnes has exhibited annually since 1985. In 1996 she founded the Theresa Byrnes Foundation Inc., which funded a research fellowship to further gene-transfer therapy. Byrnes was awarded a Young Australian of the Year award in 1998. She published her autobiography The Divine Mistake in 1999 (Pan Macmillan Australia).

20 years ago I had my first exhibition. My paintings were figurative. Figuration was my apprenticeship. Through 10 years of painting representationally I learned the magic and technique of painting.

I explored the brush stroke, to make portrait, figure or scene, until I just wanted to explore the brush stroke itself. I didn’t want to arrange marks to make an image of something known. I chose painting to show me what was unknown.

In abstraction there is nothing to copy. Abstraction is like jumping off the earth into the universe, letting go of mother’s hand and stepping into the ether of thought.

I find myself in the great void of potential. This subject does not dictate its structure to me but demands I release all ideas of knowing and open to new ways of seeing. When I paint I feel like an explorer of new paths and am privy to the experience of beauty unfolding in ways I have never seen.

The medium becomes almost irrelevant; it is the intent that gives my work consistency. My approach is not about finding a style but rather using style and medium as a vehicle.

As a child I wanted to be a scientist. My parents supplied me with science kits. I would sit on our concrete driveway warmed by the sun, ignite the Bunsen burner, set out the elements and chemicals, discard the instruction manual and endeavor to make dramatic explosions of color and froth.

I had to have an immediate reaction to feel I was going where no one had gone before. I longed to be delighted and surprised by the result and then think back to understand the technique. Experiment led to technique - not the other way around.

My parents bought me my first oil painting kit when I was five. We would go out as a family and set up easels to paint en plein air. Dissatisfied with science kits, not wanting to work with manuals I returned to painting. It was dangerous, it was not child proof and it gave me the thrill like nothing else could.

In this series I work with the flow of water and the reactions of certain colored inks added together by an eyedropper. I layer paper to manipulate the stream and create shapes (inkling # 1 & 2, Shuffle, Merge). I remove the layers and they become works in themselves (Road Trip came from Stone, Frond 1-3 came from Greenhouse.) I have disconnected from the surface. As Leonard Shlain explains in Art and Physics, “The crack between cause and effect, a brief moment occurred which was out of control, like the gap in a spark plug, this moment is what Aristotle once proposed as Potentia.”

Dr Masaru Emoto in his book “the Message of water” photographs the molecular effect on water by thought. His results show the dramatic effect thoughts have in shaping water molecules.

Painting with the basic element of life intensifies the experiment of creating reality with thought. I pour water, it pools to rivulets running with colored inks that merge in curves of paper becoming landscape, geological and biological, mirroring nature in the unifying patina that suggests both the outer and the inner world.

In physics, mathematics and nature there are shapes and structures which appear irregular and random, but nevertheless have a special pattern of regularity called self similarity. The term fractal was invented by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975.

One God is made up of 112 ink drops causing fractalizaton. It represents the cornucopia of souls that make up humanity and is also reminiscent of the individuality of each and every snowflake or of stars popping in the night sky. God is every particle; I am reminded of this by the uniqueness of every humble ink drop.

Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix once speculated “it would be worthy to investigate whether straight lines exist only in our brains”. Leonard Shlain writes “The Western adherence to the illusion that the link between objects in space and events in time is a straight line is similar to belief in a religious dogma”. There are no straight lines in nature, except for the horizon and even that is curved.

American minimalist painter Agnes Martin has me enthralled by her work. Her straight lines are tinted with human frailty. Imperfection blurred by seeing the painting as a whole, iconic and essential like the horizon. Her repetitive, delicately dispassionate minimal lines are sublime and move me like the ocean’s current. I feel it but do not have the reserve to express in that considered repetitive way.

The cut out and placed strips I use to create Strings 3 & 4 add repetition with out forcing me to meditate on the mundane. With this technique I can utilize structure while maintaining my passionate and explosive approach.

The strips started in 1983 where I applied masking tape diagonally on canvas and spray gunned paint, in 1994 I represented trees and buildings simultaneously with single lines and in 1996 I made 14 Foot lines by rolling on a dolly on my back, with the canvas above, making a continuous line with an 8 inch brush while in motion (On the Way To the Awakening series). In 1998, with the Nature Behind Bars series, I made splatters and daubes with a row of ordered lines in front. And in 1999 in The Digging Sticks series, lines represented my aboriginal mothers, symbolized as digging sticks, the female tool for harvesting water from the earth.

Now in 2005 Strings 3 & 4 reflect on the theory of super strings. String theory requires the universe to possess more than three spatial dimensions and offers the first self-consistent approach to combining quantum theory and general relativity into a single unified theory of all physical phenomena.

When I was a child I would run around on hot summer days in my Aunty Agnes’s back yard with my cousins. I would run by the old wooden paling fence. What was behind was obscured, dissected and abstracted by the spaced intervals of line. As I ran past it created a strobe effect. Foreground and background were separated but inseparable. Straight lines represent our assumption of sequential time. As I ran by the fence, form and order became music and what was clear and upfront became unknowable like behind.

A unity of self occurs while painting and through that state comes art. Rene Magrite called this “presence of mind”. This state is the heart of being an artist.

Art like science is an endless experiment, and it is never finished. Life and truth are constantly evolving and I am committed intently to continuing the experiment.

Theater for the New City presents
"Tantric Paintings" by Australian Artist, Theresa Byrnes.

New York, NY - Australian artist Theresa Byrnes' new exhibition, Tantric Paintings will premiere at the Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue at 10th Street, November 15, and remain on view through December 22, 2004. Opening night is Monday, November 15 from 6:30 - 9:30 pm, featuring Byrnes's Tantric Paintings and a performance by the artist at 9 pm sharp. The opening reception is sponsored by The Australian Consulate General.

Byrnes' paintings follow in the tradition of ancient Indian Tantric Painting (meditation aids). They capture a moment of rapture generating a stirring or thrill that awakens the spirit. Delighting in the slick and sensual response of enamel paint on aluminum, Theresa Byrnes considers the big issues of eco-feminism, war, consumerism and the metaphysics of existence. This exhibition includes such provocatively titled pieces as Nipple Bomb, In Me, Divine Juice, and Gush. Her paintings demonstrate bold use of color, experimentation with the chemical reactions inherent to enamel, and delicate yet un-restrained gestural marks.

Theresa Byrnes was born in 1969 and was given her first professional oil painting set at the age of five. She has exhibited since the age of sixteen, from 1985 in Australia and from 2000 in Europe and the USA.

In 1987 she studied visual arts at Sydney College of the Arts. Beginning as a figurative painter she stepped into abstraction 10 years ago. Always exploring new mediums her paintings are consistently fresh and exciting. This exhibition debuts two years of painting with enamel on aluminum. Byrnes received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2003 which supported the production of this work.

Byrnes moved to New York in 2000, and her first major solo show in New York was in 2001, Knot Not Know at Cristianne Nienaber Contemporary Art. It was followed by a group show, Art Science Fusion at Sapienza University, Rome Italy and in 2002 a solo exhibition, Landscape of Mistake at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. Piri Halasz reviewed her work, writing, "…reflecting the far flung influence of the splatter and daub school. Her colors can be shrill and acid, while the way she applies paint can recall Pollock and Cy Twombly. Her paintings have a poetic, sometimes unforgettable intensity." ("From the Mayors Doorstep." Issue #33)

After September 11th 2001 Byrnes felt driven to performance art, to express ideas directly with her body, to integrate the global and the personal with commitment and clarity. Her performances are painterly, intellectually layered, short and powerful. The performance aspect of Byrnes' art has become the final say of each body of work. Her abstract paintings are ambiguous in meaning, relying on the imagination while performance is the arena in which Byrnes is exacting with her message. Her paintings seduce and her performance knocks you out.

In 1996 she founded the Theresa Byrnes Foundation Inc, which funds research toward developing a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia, a fatal degenerative disease of the nervous system which she has and as a result is wheelchair-mobile. She received a Young Australian of the Year award in 1997 and was appointed as Australia Day Ambassador in 1998. In 1999 Byrnes published her autobiography, The Divine Mistake. Byrnes produces a feminist performance art event annually for the Howl Festival in the East Village. Theresa lives in New York City.

My portrait by Greg Weight is included in this book:

THERESA BYRNES    project space SUFFER    616 E 9th St (between B & C) NYC 10009    MAIL@THERESABYRNES.COM