Roger Byrt

11 Nov




2 Dec


cbOne Gallery is pleased to present Roger Byrt’s new subterranean paintings of melting glacial caves, accompanied with a sound composition by Barb Byrt.

Melting is an exploration of gravity-defying landscapes; we’re not only taken into caves through Roger Byrt’s paintings but the canvases themselves can rotate into variable compositions. Well known for his mastery of oil painting techniques, Roger Byrt achieves the luminosity of early Renaissance painting as he captures light in jewel-like colour.In recent years, Byrt has explored painting cavernous spaces from his travels to America’s southwest canyons and glaciers in Iceland.

Byrt is also drawn to painting caves because they abandon conventional realist perspective. The structure of the cave allows floating immersion that draws the viewer’s eye to all areas of the canvas. “I like the idea of painting a subject that doesn’t have a horizon line, or any up or down,” says Byrt. “I rotate the works whileI’m painting them so there’s this sense of being surrounded by the landscape rather than looking through a window at it.” - Zara Sigglekow, Art Guide, 2020

Roger Byrt’s paintings draw us into sublime landscapes that touch
on the metaphysical and question the human perspective. Melting is particularly crucial when glaciers are melting alarmingly from increased temperatures and rising sea levels. These paintings capture moments in flux where what seemed like eternal forms drip into liquid that reflects and illuminates.

Roger Byrt has an impressive history of exhibiting regularly in Australia and Canada. His career began with solo shows at the now legendary Pinacotheca Gallery throughout the ‘80’s and 90’s. His works have been acquired by important collections including Heide Museum ofArt, Artbank, NAB Collection, Monash University, and many regional galleries.

Melting 2023, installation view.

Installation View

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Artist Profile/s

Roger Byrt



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“My paintings are an ongoing attempt to depict eternal things such as light, space and form…I love painting objects that to me, possess monumental and magical qualities…”
- Roger Byrt, Art and Australia

These words go to the core of Roger Byrt’s art and his approach to painting.

Byrt was born in Melbourne in 1959. Completing a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art Painting) at Caulfield Institute of Technology (now a campus of Monash University, Melbourne Australia) he dedicated himself to painting early. From 1987 – 2001 he held the positions of lecturer and then joint Head of Painting, Faculty of Art and Design, at Monash. Upon stepping down from teaching, Byrt dedicated himself to full-time work as an artist.

Melbourne art critic Robert Nelson has said of Roger's work,

"There is an element of compositional rigor in the works and the arguments within them between surface and illusionistic depth. Though poetic, there is no rhapsodic dimension: they are all intellectually engineered to form spaces, shadows and reflection. Byrt's pictorial process has a great purity."
- Robert Nelson, The Age Melbourne

Influenced by early Renaissance art, later 16th century Italian art, and by the Scuola  Metafisica artists ( e.g. Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra), Byrt's work emits a strong sense of fantasy, musicality, grace and sublimity. They demonstrate nature in a continuous abstract flux: the physical and the metaphysical combine.

Byrt's paintings are inhabited by surrealist metaphors, disjunctive juxtapositions and dramatic chiaroscuro. Think of the folds of drapery in a Caravaggio painting or the dramatic, surreal ambivalence in a Georgia O'Keeffe flower painting.

Working in a method that employs Old Master glazing techniques to create paintings that he regards as essentially metaphysical, Byrt's works have a sublimely finished, ethereal, and incorporeal quality. They evoke a sense of visual irony and ambiguity.

“...there are resonances and paradoxes, tensions and areas of serene open space, but we are offered few clues to these visual conundrums

...I don't like the idea of explaining the artwork, I try to title evocatively so as to provide a handle for the viewer. I firmly believe that a good painting should present more questions to people than answers. I'm interested in making beautiful things."
- Roger Byrt, Art and Australia

Yet for all their ambivalence, Byrt's works show great consideration and an enviable painterly skill.

Since his first solo exhibition at the now legendary Pinacotheca Gallery in Richmond in 1988, Byrt has had over twenty-one solo shows including six at Pinacotheca , several with Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney; Axia Modern Art, Melbourne; Eastgate Galleries, Melbourne; and an exhibition at the Australian Centre, Australian Embassy, Manilla, Philippines. He has been included in many group exhibitions, and is represented in Public Collections, including the Museum of Modern Art at Heide; Monash University and R.M.I.T, Melbourne. His works also hang in many corporate and private collections in Australia, Asia and Europe.

Roger has been the recipient of a number of high-profile grants for his work including an Ian Potter Foundation Grant for a Citibank Commission (Caravaggio in 3D); an Australia Council Grant for an exhibition at Australia Centre, Manila, Philippines: and a VCAB Grant to Verdaccio Studios in Italy. In 1992, he was the recipient of the Diamond Valley Acquisitive Art Award.

His work is represented in public, corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas including, Artbank; Museum of Modern Art at Heide; Monash University; The Broken Hill Art Gallery: Grafton Regional Gallery: Riddoch Art Gallery: Dubbo Regional Gallery: Department of Agriculture, RMIT; Lasalle-Sia College of the Arts, Singapore; Adorna Institute of Technology, (RMIT, Penang); ANZ; National Australia Bank; Citibank; and The Art Trust.

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