Byrne struggled to make a living as an artist after leaving Glasgow School of Art in 1963, and after a few years he decided to create an alter-ego called “Patrick”. Under this name he submitted some primitive-style artwork to the Portal Gallery in London which he pretended was painted by his father. It was accepted and exhibited in 1967, kicking off Byrne’s professional artistic career down south. The Conversation, 2022
John Byrne was born in a housing scheme in Paisley. He escaped work in a carpet factory to study at the Glasgow School of Art from 1958 to 1963. He is one of Scotland’s most iconic visual artists, playwright and theatre designer. Byrne works in a wide variety of styles and techniques including painting, mixed media and printmaking. In 1967, following a lack of success with London galleries, Byrne produced a series of paintings under the guise of ‘Patrick’, which he claimed was the name of his seventy-two year old father. These were met with interest, much to the artist’s amusement. John Byrne was represented by The Scottish Gallery over a twenty year period from the 1980s. Much of his subject-matter is overtly autobiographical, often featuring or referring to the Teddy Boy/Rock and Roll era of his youth. His work is held in numerous public collections including the National Galleries of Scotland.
Byrne has designed record covers for Donovan, The Beatles, Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly. His work is held in major collections in Scotland and abroad. Several of his paintings hang in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, the Museum of Modern Art and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.