Focusing
By Brian Henderson

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Year
1996
Media
Oil Painting
Subject Matter
People
Reg. Number
L222
Size
78 x 78 cm

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The first thing that strikes you when looking at this image is how well it is painted. It has been produced with precision technique and if passed quickly, one could almost mistake it for a photograph. The main subject matter is located around a man taking a photograph or looking through binoculars. He is very focused as you can see from the look of concentration on his face, but the title, 'Focusing', could also refer to the camera or binocular lens. Henderson has used a strong contrast of light and shadow to create a realistic image and perhaps to emphasize the focus of the painting itself and how clear it is. Very dark and earthy colours have been used to represent the rocks surrounding the man, who although very unassuming in his Wellington Boots and raincoat, has a strong masculine presence; one of solitude and absorption in the scene. There is a slight imbalance in the image, as the dark earthy tones seem to engulf the piece, but then to the right there is a glimpse of light and water away from the intimate space next to the rock face. The viewer is left with the impression that there is a great expanse beyond the rocks and pebbles. The pebbles underfoot, also looking so realistic, give the impression of a crunchiness, almost as though the image could exert sound. The brush strokes are light and precise and as you move by the image, it's almost as though the light reflects a different points - as though you are seeing it in real life. This is very typical of Brian Henderson's work, as he uses the strong, bold colours in his artworks to leave an impression.
Brian is widely known for his bold and vibrant displays, not only in colour, but in scale. He uses loose and exaggerated brush strokes which suggest it is not only the final product which counts, but the process by which it has arrived. Brian believes the whole process is part of the art. His work is also very structural in the sense that he uses metals, such as aluminium, and distresses and manipulates them into the desirable form. He will etch, sand, coat in wax, paint and scrape the pieces until they are completed.

Brian Henderson is an Irish artist, born in 1950 and currently resides between Ireland and the USA where he holds dual citizenship. Brian's career began when he was awarded the MacCaulay Fellowship by the Arts Council of Ireland at age 21. This was a rare and prestigious award, and one that would open a wealth of opportunity for him in the following years. He used the money to travel to New York, where he lived for thirty years, developing and experimenting with his work. He took over an art studio there which also became his home. Brian's first exhibition was held in New York in 1971 and since then he has had many more in the States, but also in Europe and mainly Ireland. In 1972 he also received the Glen Abbey award for his work.

His work is now housed in public collections such as: The Arts Council of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA, the Korean Embassy in Dublin, the Irish Embassy, Luxembourg, Self Portrait Collection of Ireland, the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin and Stockard Channing, New York City.


With thanks to the Human Art Collective for artist information