Brian Maguire’s painting practice is driven by the struggle against inequality and violence, and the pursuit of justice. Compelled towards the raw realities of human conflict, Maguire approaches painting foremost as an act of solidarity, rehumanising his subjects and recentring the narratives of the disenfranchised. Social engagement plays a central role, leading him to work closely and interactively with refugees, survivors of warzones, incarcerated peoples, and local newsrooms in locations including Sudan, Syria, São Paulo and Ciudad Juárez. This subject-led approach requires negotiating an exchange, establishing a method of working that attempts to “repay the debt” to its subjects. Maguire’s direct observation of conflict zones puts his practice adjacent to forms of war reporting or photojournalism, but while his artworks might begin as acts of bearing witness, his task in the studio is to transform his testimony into blisteringly powerful works of art. There is a resulting tension between the raw and visceral nature of Maguire’s subject matter and the seductive, illusory nature of painting itself. Rather than abandoning aestheticism, Maguire uses painterly skill, surface and texture to draw us into an uncomfortable relationship in which ethical vision functions as part of the poetic imagination, resituating art in the concrete social structures from which it is so often removed.
In 2018, Kerlin Gallery and Fergus McCaffrey published the Brian Maguire monograph, an expansive publication which presents over 30 years of work and features texts by Donald Kuspitt, Thomas McEvilley, Gavin Delahunty, and Ed Vulliamy.
Brian Maguire lives and works in Dublin and Paris.