An exhibition by James Byrne is not simply a spectacle. It is an experience.
Contemplating one of Byrne’s powerful paintings of Torridon, we can almost feel the storm swirling around us. Like Turner, who exposed himself to the dangers of a storm at sea in search of authenticity, Byrne takes his sketch book out in all weathers in remote and wild locations. He jots down impressions, not just of the landscape he sees, but also of the sensations he feels. These impressions are then taken back to the studio to provide raw material for paintings which take us beneath the surface of traditional landscape. Byrne does not give us landscape as it looks, but landscape as it is experienced. In his new collection, Byrne has also found inspiration closer to home. Sutton Park may be an oasis of countryside on the verge of the city, but in the hands of James Byrne we see the essential wildness of trees. Whether he tackles the mountains of Scotland or the tamer environment of Sutton Park, Byrne gives us a hint of the sublime: the overwhelming and sometimes alarming power of nature.