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Brian Maguire: Scenes of Absence

Rubin Gallery
September 26 - December 13, 2019 


“Brian Maguire is an artist of singular yet expansive vision: an activist, correspondent and a voice for dispossessed and marginalized individuals often considered dispensable by the rest of society.  Since the onset of his professional career four decades ago, Maguire has been an instigator of numerous interactive projects with prisoners, refugees, and survivors; the artist’s practice is inseparable from his commitment to the community with whom he feels in service, navigating an often precarious exchange subject to the scrutiny of the public opinion under which it must operate.” [1]

[1] From the Foreword to Brian Maguire, Published by Fergus McCaffery, New York and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, October 2018.


This abbreviated retrospective of Irish artist Brian Maguire showcases his large-scale work in response to zones of conflict around the world.  It features paintings from throughout Maguire’s decades-long career and deals with a diverse constellation of global struggles from the Troubles of his native Ireland to the streets of Aleppo and beyond, drawing complex connections between a broad cast of humans who have been left in the shadows of global capitalism, while at the same time highlighting the artist’s special relationship to his subjects.

Central to the exhibition is an exploration of both violence and the drug trade based in part on Maguire’s multiple visits to Ciudad Juárez over the course of ten years, where he formed relationships with the families of disappeared women and girls, visiting them regularly, giving art classes to their children and eventually creating a series of portraits of their missing relatives – in each case creating a pair, one for the families and one for display, carrying their stories around the world.  These Juárez portraits are themselves complemented by a broader exploration of the economy of the international drug trade (Grow House series, 2015 and Cocaine Laundry series, 2015), the ubiquitous accessibility of guns in the United States (Guns, 1995) the ritual and ceremony of the police forces in Mexico (Police Graduation 2012 (Juárez), 2014).