A fleeting shadow crossing an architectural façade. Telephone poles reflected in an office window. A yellow crane splitting the sky overhead. Common sights such as these often pass unnoticed in our daily interactions with the city. Yet it’s the subtle shifting of these elements that weave together to create the life-force that awakens the built environment. Hugh Byrne’s body of work represents a continued investigation into the interplay between movement and architectural elements in various urban landscapes. His technique allows him to translate the lines and patterns of the city into what he describes as layered collages. Central to Byrne’s work is the creation of a sense of harmony and balance between lines and colours of the city.

‘I am always intrigued by the first impression a new place can have on an individual. How that person can see something in a completely different way to someone who has been living there their whole life. I like the way the buildings are layered upon each other. The way in which there is both planned and unplanned structure. The accidental ‘collages’ of bridges upon buildings upon streets etc.’

Drawing inspiration from various 20th-century movements, Byrne’s works reference the architectural vocabulary of the Constructivist Movement, the dynamism of the Futurists and the perspective-bending experiments of the Op Art Movement. All of these moments played a role in the artist’s development to date, yet none have completely satisfied his need for the ‘now’ or desire to represent space and movement simultaneously.

Through a process of photographing urban spaces and then working with these images, Byrne starts to discover and unveil hidden shapes and forms that lie unassumingly on, and just below, the surface of the city. Over time this process has evolved whereby he has become attached to shapes; ideas which have become “characters’ that re-appear in many of his works. He constantly refines and focuses on the relationship between the foreground and background to create a dynamic and bold statement. Whilst the city itself continues to provide inspiration and a valuable starting point for his work Byrne has begun to develop his own architectural language that has shaped this body of work.

This, Hugh Byrne’s first solo exhibition at EBONY Cape Town, showcases a selection of visually arresting works that create a space for the viewer to experience and understand the cityscape in a new way.

Works on Exhibition