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Selected Statements

"Byrnes' performance pieces place her amid the ranks of a purist avant-garde of artists operating at the fringe of contemporary art in America today. I say purist, because for them there are few boundaries or taboos. As part of a well-established genre of experimental performance and body art dating back to the 1960s and '70s, the Australian's shows are both fearless and confronting. Her works are contemporaneous, often attune to environmental concerns, but she also shares the sensibility of an older generation of feminist artists like the late Nancy Spero. 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 The Daily Mirror, London


"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