CREATIVE thinking needs SPACE to act within.
Ruairí O’Brien – Art Works is the title of this website. The title is made up from a name, my own, the word art and the word works.
The word „art“ is a word that is both humble and majestic, difficult to define, small and large, constantly changing in its form and never ending in its influence. The word „works“ implies tasks undertaken or projects and works in progress. It also means that art works, full stop.
In my opinion working can also take on the form of playing. This is a subject that ancient thinkers often touched on, the idea that the highest level of existence can be reached through the act of playing pleases me. In this sense the act of playfulness should influence our everyday tasks as much as possible where possible.
Each project or work published on this site tells a story. My „art works“ can be seen as being „places“ where I have been. I enjoy the freedom of movement between the arts, I allow, subjects and projects, methods and skills, to influence, inspire and to feed off each other. Is this transdisciplinary or interdisciplinary? Or perhaps it is just how life should be perceived and lived!
Ruairí O’Brien is architect and artist, professor for architecture and visual design at the German University in Cairo and president/co-founder of the Erich Kästner House of Literature.
O’Brien grew up next to where James Joyce’s “Ulysses” begins with its snot green sea.
Following the call, heard by many islanders, of chosen exile, O’Brien studied architecture in London, Edinburgh and New York. In search of the zeitgeist following the German reunification O’Brien visited Dresden in 1991 and decided to set up camp on the banks of the Elbe. Half a lifetime later, O’Brien is still living in the Elbe metropole, although no longer in a tent, needless to say.
“In the Dublin society I grew up in, literature, poetry, newspapers and storytelling accompanied the everyday dealings with each other. Walking through a city where so many writers had lived or that has been included in their stories meant that literature, buildings and urban space fused in my perception of what architecture is or should be, a stage set for human life with all its tragic and comic, a memory bank for coming generations or even a kind of spatial/material poetry.”
O’Brien has executed several interdisciplinary art and heritage projects that fuse literature and architectural thought into a physical expression, such as the interactive mobile micromuseum for Erich Kästner, the Slaughterhouse 5 memorial for Kurt Vonnegut, the temporary exhibition for the Capek Brothers and Gedenkstätte Ehrenhain Zeithain.
O’Brien continues to develop his Light poetry genre, which he initiated with the Bardinale international poetry festival, performing Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” at the “Kleines Haus” in Dresden. He also cooperates with other artists; an example would be his light performance accompanying the Spanish poet Juan Carlos Valle and the jazz musician Günter Heinz for the project “Tócame Y Te Recito” at the Deutsches Hygienemuseum Dresden.
Ruairí O’Brien – Architect, Lighting Designer, Artist
Born in Dublin / Ireland. Studied architecture and light at universities in London, Edinburgh and New York. O’Brien worked for offices in London, New York, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Dresden from 1989 until 1995.
1995: Founding of “Ruairí O’Brien. Architecture. Light. Spatial Design.”
2010: Founding of „Ruairí O’Brien Lighting Design”.
Ruairí O’Brien is an associate professor and head of the Architecture and Visual Design department at the German University in Cairo. He teaches design studios and lighting design.
With his architectural practice, Ruairi O’Brien. Architecture. Light. Spatial Design. (See: www.ruairiobrien-international.com) and his lighting design studio (See: www.ruairiobrien-lightingdesign.com), O’Brien has executed a large and diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary work which includes urban design projects, market squares, innovative and custom-built street lighting, public and private buildings, hospitals, schools, residential buildings, museums, memorials, exhibitions and interiors. O’Brien recently completed an “architectural design guide” and lighting masterplan for the city area of Lichtenrade in Berlin and is currently working on the new lighting concept for the airport of Dresden in Germany.
O’Brien’s teaching contracts gained him international teaching experience at universities in Germany, Czech Republic, Russia and Syria. During his time as a visiting professor at the University of Wismar in Germany (2001-2005) O’Brien helped initiate the international master’s course in Architectural Lighting Design and was responsible for the programs design studios. O’Brien has given lectures, supervised workshops and organized exhibitions on architecture and lighting design in Japan, the Netherlands, Greece, England, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Italy, Latvia and in the USA.
A major and recurring theme in O’Brien’s work is LIGHT.
To express the “wonder” of light O’Brien has created a series of light sculptures, executed light „poetry“ performances and lighting installations and worked on theatre and dance projects. In 2004 he founded a light poetry festival under the title “Light and Word” in Dresden, Germany. Light Poetry is a genre that O’Brien has invented to describe the area of work he has developed to express Light as an “instrument” or “vehicle” of poetic expression and communication.
His drawings, light sculptures and paintings have been exhibited in London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Chemnitz and Dresden.
O’Brien’s research interests are an extension of the topics he has developed as a practicing architect and artist with an interdisciplinary approach to art, design and building: Future architecture. Lighting and the built environment. The development of old and new towns. Microarchitecture. The architecture of museums, memory and heritage. Drawing as architectural theory and communication. The effect of digitalization on architecture and society
Membership of Professional associations
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) / Saxony Chamber of Architects (AKS) / Federation of International Lighting Designers-Founding member (FILD) / Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) / Deutsche Lichttechnische Gesellschaft – German Society for Lighting Technology (LiTG).
Baukultur e.V. (Federal Foundation for Building Culture in Germany)
Honorary Director of the micromuseum for Erich Kaestner and the House for contemporary literature in Dresden.
President “Betonzeitschiene” e.V. (City heritage project and micromuseum for the Prefabricated concrete housing industry).
Architecture and Urban planning (selection):
Lighting masterplan – Lichtenrade, Berlin – 2018 Architecture/ Urban design handbook – Lichtenrade, Berlin – 2017
Market Square Freiberg – Lighting masts, fountains, seating and town hall illumination. – 2009
Affordable housing – House EVOLUCIO Dresden – 2007
Hologram facade/ City tourist and exhibtion centre, Jena – 2006
Betonzeitschiene – micromuseum for concrete housing and the destruction and rebirth of the city of Dresden – 2004
Zeithain, Prisoners of war memorial and micromuseum – 2003
Erich Kaestner Museum – micromuseum – Dresden – 1989
LIGHT POETRY PERFORMANCES, LIGHT OBJECTS, SCULPTURES & INSTALLATIONS, THEATER PRODUCTIONS (selection)
2016 – Lighting Installation, in the Chapel of the North Cemetry, Dresden, Germany
2016 – Light Poetry Performance with
Spanish Poet Juan Carlos Valle, Componist and musician Günter Heinz,
Speaker Vanessa Valle, Improvisation music festival, Hygiene Museum Dresden, Germany
2015 – Lighting Installation, in the Garrisons church for the ORNÖ art festival, Dresden, Germany
2012 – „Slaughterhouse 5, a lighting story telling mural“ installed in the authentic basement where the
writer Kurt Vonnegut experienced the destruction of Dresden, Germany
2012 – „Light-masterplan Poetika II“, Urban Light Poetry Walk, Luminale in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2012 – „Light-masterplan Poetika I“, Urban Light Poetry Walk, Luminale in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2009 – Leipzig Festival of Lights, Light sculpture „89“, 20 years „Friedlichen Revolution“, (Peaceful Revolution), Leipzig, Germany
2009 – „Arcades Project“ Light poetry Performance as homage to the writer Walter Benjamin and his work
„The Arcades Projekt“ for „Bardinale Flows“ with the componist and musician Günter Heinz and Video- und Media artist
Konstantinos Antonios Goutos, Culture Center „Blauen Fabrik“, Dresden, Germany
2009 – „8 windows 9 doors“ – Light sculpture, 20 years „Friedlichen Revolution“ (Peaceful Revolution) in the Memorial „Bautzner Strasse“, Dresden, Germany.
2008 – „microlightsculpture 09 – „Fire“ – Light sculpture dedicated to the poet Elke Erb for „Bardinale flows“ in Dresden, Germany
2008 – „Himmelsfenster“ – „Window to the sky“ Light sculpture dedicated to the artist Lucas Cranach in Kronach, Bayern, Germany
2006 – „DAY + NIGHT“ Light Poetry Performance on city wasteland as homage to the Irish writer Samuel Beckett for the International Poetry festival Bardinale mit Light and Word, Dresden, Germany
2005 – „Städte am Meer“, „Cities on Water“ Light Poetry Performance for the International Poetry festival Bardinale, Staatsschauspiel/ kleines Haus Dresden with Ronald Lippok (sound) and Thomas Kunst (Text), Dresden, Germany
2005 – „Eating the Light“ – Light sculpture in the „Lingner Castle“ in Dresden, Germany
2004 – Founder and curator of the international light poetry festival „Light and Word“ as part of the International poetry festival „Bardinale“ in Dresden, Germany
2004 – „Eis + Finsternis“, „Ice and Darkness“, Light poetry performace and theater production dedicated to the writer Christoph Ransmayr, „Bardinale with Light an Word“, Culture center „Scheune“ Dresden, Germany
2003 – „Unsichtbare Städte“ „Invisible Cities“, Light Poetry Performance as homage to the work of Italo Calvino, street performance on the Augustus Bridge and in the Culture centre Scheune, Bardinale, Dresden, Germany
2002 – Urban Land Art Project „Betonzeitschiene“, Concrete Time Lines“, Architecture installation on city wasteland, Participation project, Johannstadt, Dresden, Germany
2002 – „microlightsculpture 02“ – Light sculpture dedicated to the Danisch Poet Inger Christensen, Dresden, Germany
2002 – The „GiftGarden“ – Interactive „Gesellschaftskunstwerk“ Participation art work and installation dedicated to „nature, humankind and the anthropocene“
2002 – „microlightsculpture 01“ – Lichtskulptur zum Schweriner Kultursommer, Schwerin/ Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
2000 – „Baustelle Deutschland“, „Building site Germany“ interactive participation art work and installation, now part of the permanent exhibition and collection in the „Zeitgeschichtlichen Forum Leipzig“, Forum of Contemporary History, Leipzig, Germany
1998 – „Interactive Rooms 3+4“ – Architecture-Theater-Dance-Projekt in „Projekttheater“ Dresden, Germany
EXHIBITIONS: Paintings and Drawings
2019 – Cairo Triptych – Ruairi O’Brien „Pockets of Darkness“ – Oil paintings Group exhibition with Peter Blodau „Layers of Light“ – Drawings and Christian Dootz „Sounds of Color“ – Photography – Arcade Gallery Maadi – Cairo
2016/ 2017 – „SommerSchau“: Concept, curation and participation in the series of art and photography exhibtions under the title „Summer Show“ in the „House of Architects“, Dresden, Germany
2016 – Winterschau“ – Zwei Handschriften, verwickelt“, paintings and drawings, Ruairí O’Brien & Niels-Christian Fritsche, „House of Architects“, Dresden, Germany
2015 – Licht / Light, Works on paper, Objekts and Light art, Galerie Oben, Chemnitz, Germany
2015 – Light and Darkness, Works on Paper, Objekts and Light art for the International poetry festival Bardinale „Africa“, Literature House Dresden, Germany
2015 – „SommerSchau“, „Summer Show“ in the House of architects, Dresden.
2015 – Duality, Light Sculpture for the exhibition „28 Tage Dunkel“ in the Gallery „Tapetenwerk“ Leipzig, Germany
2012/ 2012/ 2013/ 2014, „SommerSchau“, „Summer Show“ in the House of architects, Dresden, Germany
2007 – microTESTATMENT, interdisciplinary exhibition, Drawings, Paintings, Light art, architecture, Gallery and Culture center Blaue Fabrik, Dresden, Germany
2003 – Light and Space II, Paintings – Spatial Workshop, City Library, Dresden, Germany
1999 – Light and Space I, Paintings – Spatial Workshop, Townhall and City Cultural Centre, Dresden, Germany
1997 – The sweetness of foreign, Painting, Kunsthalle Dresden, Germany
1997 – The sweetness of foreign, Painting, Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, Germany
1987 – 3 Pencil and ink drawings, Royal Academy of Arts, Summer Exhibition, London, England
Awards and Prizes:
First Prize: MDR Bridge – City of Leipzig – Architectural Lighting design concept for a pedestrian and bycyle bridge in Leipzig 2015
Second prize: „Urban Art“ Lighting installation „Gladbacher Tor“, for the town of Viersen 2012
Special recognition: Seasonal/Winter Urban Lighting concept for the inner city area, Leipzig 2011
Second Prize: Urban Art and Communication Concept for the „Revolution way“. A route that dipicated the key locations of the peaceful revolution in Dresden. 2011
First Prize: International Urban and architectural Competition for the “Meetingpoint Music Messiaen”.Görlitz / Zgorzelec Germany – Poland 2009
Special recognition prize “architektour 2009” Chamber of architects in Thuring for the „Stadtspeicher“ project and the Hologrammfassade, Markt 16 in Jena. 2009
First prize: City planning and lighting concept for the Market Square of the City of Freiberg, Saxony. Work executed included the development of 6 new lighting masts that could light the entire market square (140m x 70 m) in an evenly glare free light. The lighting masts also light the market square with coloured light reflections during the day. The sun interacts with glass elements intergrated in the upper part of the masts. In this way the lighting masts have a dual purpose. 1. Not only do they light the space at night and fullfill all technical functions requirecd but 2. They also provide the town dweller, the tourist and the child with an artistic „sun clock“ lighting effect during the day. The lighting of the town hall, the historic fountain and the creatio of two new play fountains with urban seating were also part of the project. 2009
First prize: Revitalisation and architectural renovation of the „Markt 16“ a hertitage protected building dating from the middel ages situated on the market square in Jena.The „High-Tech“ holographic glass facade is a 16 m high „Light sculpture“ that interacts with the natural sun and the movemnet of time. 2006
First prize: “Growth 01” Exhibition architecture / Lighting installtion for the Fürst-Pückler-Park and castle. Bad Muskau 2005
First prize: Architecture, Exhibition architecture and Lighting installation; for the war memorial and exhibition in Zeithain – Gedenkstätte Ehrenhain Zeithain – Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten 2002
Financial support from the City „Art Commission“ in Dresden for the Urban wasteland revitalisation project „open air museum project Betonzeitschiene®“ and the Lighting installation “schwarzrotgold01” as part of thethe Dresden „Art in public space“ program, Dresden 2004
Exhibition architecture prize 2002: for the concept and execution of the Erich Kästner micromuseum®. in Dresden, Kulturstiftung HBS