CHINA CRISIS 1989, my first performance was a response to Tiananmen Square. I lay on my red action painting - red paint tossed/spilt/spattered on canvas that resembled the map of China. I laId dead still for 3 hours (the opening of the group exhibition in Australia’s China town.) I was 20 years old, a committed painter, I knew nothing of Performance Art but felt I had to commit further to painting by putting my body into it.

My first performance in the US (undocumented) was in December 2001. It was part of a multimedia arts event at St Mark’s Church in the Bowery, New York, entitled WAR AND CHRISTMAS. The event, curated by Frank Morales gave artists a forum to express how they felt about 911. 

For months after September 11th 2001 I could not bring myself to paint. I did not want to play into the hands of excess. I rigged up a blank, raw canvas; slide images of my action paintings were projected onto a canvas/screen, I then  threw a mix of motor oil and ink from a  motor oil container. Dark oil dribbled down the canvas over the projection of colorful, gestural paintings. The performance  was called  “Oil Painting”. This started the performance aspect of my art.

Making paintings is for me the ultimate form of contemplation, an experiment whose solution culminates in a painting, a work that echoes the question and whose fierce beauty suggests “the answer” & propels me to continue to examine life through it’s magnifying glass.

I am a painter first and foremost; my performance art comes from that. There comes a time when I am no longer satisfied to find painterly solutions, I have to get inside the picture plane - and so I plan for full body immersion in the painting and in the contemplation – a performance art piece, and the actual performance becomes a group contemplation.

“…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 



1. Performance Art     Theresa Byrnes


CHINA CRISIS 1989, my first performance was a response to Tiananmen Square. I lay on my red action painting - red paint tossed/spilt/spattered on canvas that resembled the map of China. I laid dead still for 3 hours (the opening of the group exhibition in Australia’s China town.) I was 20 years old, a committed painter, I knew nothing of Performance Art but felt I had to commit further to painting by putting my body into it.


My first performance in the US (undocumented) was in December 2001. It was part of a multimedia arts event at St Mark’s Church in the Bowery, New York, entitled WAR AND CHRISTMAS. The event, curated by Frank Morales gave artists a forum to express how they felt about 911. 


For months after September 11th 2001 I could not bring myself to paint. I did not want to play into the hands of excess. I rigged up a blank, raw canvas; slide images of my action paintings were projected onto a canvas/screen, I then threw a mix of motor oil and ink from a motor oil container. Dark oil dribbled down the canvas over the projection of colorful, gestural paintings. The performance was called  “Oil Painting”. This started the performance aspect of my art.


Making paintings is for me the ultimate form of contemplation, an experiment whose solution culminates in a painting, a work that echoes the question and whose fierce beauty suggests “the answer” and propels me to continue to examine life through it’s magnifying glass.

 

I am a painter first and foremost; my performance art comes from that. There comes a time when I am no longer satisfied to find painterly solutions, I have to get inside the picture plane - and so I plan for full body immersion in painting and in contemplation – a performance art piece. 


“…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 

"Covered in viscous shining paint, drenched with color Theresa Byrnes body becomes the agency of a visual, spatial transformation marking, splattering, stroking surrounding surfaces. The effects are fierce and luscious, extending the radical marks of Kline, Pollock, and the dimensional implications of Abstract Expressionism. These physicalized events move between aesthetic principles of painting and sculpture as space is marked and concentrated by the physical activations of her body as medium. These performative paintings challenge aesthetic conventions, which are optical, physical as well as medical, just as temporality intensifies the emotive unpredictability of these actions."

Carolee Schneemann, artist

"Theresa Byrnes' performance work is both visceral and fragile at the same time. To watch her perform is painful, poignant, and pointed. It is Yves Klein meets Chris Burden, with no one left standing. And yet, once done, something au courant haunts the memory."

Jef Bourgeau

Director

Detroit, MONA, Museum Of New Art

From 1989 to 2018 I have done 35 Performance Art pieces.

CHINA CRISIS - 1989, OIL PAINTING - 2001, OPENING - 2002, THE FLAG - 2002, NO BLOOD FOR OIL - 2002, CRASH 21 - 2003, EMERGENCY EMPIRE - 2003, La Bomb - 2003, ME MEAT WE WAR - 2004, TRACE - 2007, FRY FREE - 2006, SLEEP STAIN - 2007 THERESA TREE - 2008, NEST - 2009, NEST Sydney, THE MEASURE OF MAN, The Measure Of Man - Guerrilla Style - 2010, DUST TO DUST - 2011, TENDER - 2012, CLOTHED - 2013, CLOTHED SPARROW HEART Sydney, BRAID - 2014, BEING TWO - 2015, GAMBETTE - 2015, MUDBIRD NYC - 2015, BRIDE - 2016, THE FLAME - 2016, DECONSECRATION 2017, RESULT 2017, MUDBIRD ULURU 2017, MUDBIRD SYDNEY - 2017, BROKEN - 2018, THE SNAKE - 2018.