Born in 1986, Kyle Barnes grew up in Cookstown, Northern Ireland. He graduated in Fine and Applied Arts from The University of Ulster, Belfast. Today his work is represented in numerous private and public collections including the National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Kyle Barnes creates highly accomplished figurative portraits. In this new series we encounter his subjects through a lens that does not mask blemishes, but focuses upon them, holding them up to the light to be inspected and celebrated. Painterly marks and gestures build to display exposed skin in its entirely honest, imperfect form.
Often, his subjects are marked with layers of dried paint or mud, cracked and hardened on the surface of their skin. The textures of these marks are sensuous and evocative; they articulate a vulnerability about his figures, presenting and surrendering their stained flesh for examination. "Our skin is a timeline of our life, style and choices. Through living life, we continually go through a process of cleansing and renewing from the dirt and grime that we pick up through 'life living' both physically and metaphorically." From this, Barnes captures intimate moments that feel distinctly raw and undistilled, a fleeting instant of mutual trust between the artist and their subject.
Barnes has received numerous accolades, including the Young Artist Award and the People's Choice Award at the Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast, as well as the Tyrone Guthrie Residency. He has also collected the Whyte's Award at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and the Towry prize at the National Open Art Competition.