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Cowen noose picture just gallows humour – artist

BRIAN COWEN has been in some tricky situations recently, but none quite as treacherous as this. The artist responsible for the controversial canvas depicting the Taoiseach with a noose around his neck last night defended his work. Tom Byrne maintained that his painting does not depict suicide and wasn’t “all that strong” despite it being removed from display at a gallery in Dublin after a number of objections.
Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Sean FitzPatrick is also prominent in the work – as he appears to pull a chair out from beneath Mr Cowen. Mr. Cowen is holding two golf balls in a non-too-subtle nod to recent revelations that the Taoiseach played a round of golf with the bank boss shortly before the controversial bank guarantee was introduced.
“The Personal Guarantee’ went on display in the window of Dublin’s Apollo Gallery on Dawson Street, last Thursday, but was later removed. “We had some very strong opinions coming through the door,” Clare Shanahan said yesterday. “People were very angry about how the Taoiseach was portrayed in the picture. The reaction was such we had to remove the canvas from our window and even take it off display.”
However, the artist responsible defended it. “I’d say the protests had more to do with the Apollo Gallery’s proximity to Leinster House than outrage from members of the public,” Mr Byrne argued. “I’m told all the men who came into the Apollo complaining wore suits.”
Mr Byrne, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, said the painting did not depict Mr Cowen as about to commit suicide. He added: “Given that effigies of certain figures involved in our banking scandal have been burnt outside the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank, I really don’t think my painting is all that strong.”
‘The Personal Guarantee’ remains for sale at €950.


Tom Byrne’s painting of Brian Cowen Featured in the independent.

tombyrne’s painting of Brian Cowen as a punk rocker was featured in the Irish Independent.

Tom Byrne’s Painting in the Sunday Independent, 16th January 2011

IN THE ROUGH: Brian Cowen and Sean Fitzpatrick in a painting called ‘Golf Date’ By Tom Byrne at the Apollo Gallery in Dublin