Brian Maguire: La Grande Illusion

Brian Maguire, Child Living From the Waste Food on the City Dump (São Paulo 2003), 2022. Image courtesy Kerlin Gallery, Dublin

  • Exhibitions

3 October 2024 – 23 March 2025

Admission Free

Brian Maguire, Child Living From the Waste Food on the City Dump (São Paulo 2003), 2022. Image courtesy Kerlin Gallery, Dublin

In autumn 2024, Hugh Lane Gallery is organising a major exhibition of the work of Brian Maguire.



Entitled “La Grande Illusion” the exhibition is structured and distilled in ways that reveal how the artist has represented the fragility of human rights and how he has persistently responded to societal injustices and their legacies. Focusing on a period of intense productivity for the artist, 2007–2024, it appraise his activism in human rights and his efforts to document the shape-shifting nature of war with its far-reaching impact on the poor and our environment.

Maguire presents an expanded view of war- seen as a constant cycle of corrupted power and death – it encompasses capital, class, gender and post-colonial legacies. Intimate and uncompromising, his paintings form a demand for social justice and are an act of solidarity with families and communities. The exhibition will draw on seven pioneering and interconnected bodies of work, with works from Hugh Lane Gallery and Crawford art Gallery collections alongside works from private collections including the Tia Collection, Santa Fe. These include paintings from projects in Juárez, Mexico (2012–15), the Mediterranean (2016), Aleppo (2017), South Sudan (2018), the Amazon (2022), Arizona (2022) and Brazil (2022-23)

Testimony is integral to understanding violence, human rights violations and state abuse.

In turning towards the plight of those erased by media or state institutions, the artist reminds us why painting matters. “In painting, ‘the invisible becomes visible’, he explains. It is a transformative frame, placing the experiences you encounter on the doorstep of power and in a continuum with history, mythology and the tragedies of existence.” Like education for Paulo Freire, art for Maguire is a radical process of passion and indignation, which carries the potential of alternative futures. “the image carries the present, the medium carries the hope” says Maguire and expands by referring to the domains of loss as ‘the perpetrators of the injustice are worldwide and singular and that’s what makes the stories the same’.

This exhibition is co-curated by Michael Dempsey, Head of Exhibitions and Barbara Dawson Director, Hugh Lane Gallery.

La Grande Illusion will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring illuminating essays by Lucy Cotter, Christian Viveros-Fauné and Marc Donnadieu that contextualise the exhibition and the environment in which it is created.

Admission Free. All Welcome.

The exhibition opens in the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square, Dublin on 3 October 2024 and will run until 23 March 2025.

  • Profile

    Brian Maguire lives and works in Dublin and Paris. Brian Maguire’s painting practice is driven by the struggle against inequality and violence, and the pursuit of justice. His process is foremost 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. Recent solo exhibitions include Social Forms: Art as Global Citizenship, Converge 45, Portland (2023); law of the land, Kunsthall 3,14, Bergen, Norway (2023); The Clock Winds Down, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2023); In The Light Of Conscience, Missoula Art Museum, Montana (2022); North and South of the Border, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago (2022); Remains, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland (2021); An Anatomy of Politics, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris (2021).

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The Eve of St Agnes Harry Clarke 1924