Liam de Frinse (b. Belfast, 1949) is a painter, installation artist, sculptor, performance poet and writer who drew comics in the mid-1970s.
He grew up in Ardoyne, north Belfast, and took an apprenticeship as a spark (marine electrical) at Harland & Wolff shipyard in his teens, while going to art classes at the Belfast College of Art at night, sharpening up his drawing skills under the late John Luke, until he was made redundant about 1972. Encouraged by his late wife Marion to go to art college full time, he ended up going to Queen's University reading Celtic Studies, Social Anthropology and Political science, and after graduating became a lecturer. He continued to paint in his spare time, until he decided to go full time at the age of 40, leaving academia behind.
As an undergrad at Queen's in the mid 1970s, he held the post of Chair of An Cumann Gaeilige. Durning this period, he co-edited a cultural satirical magazine called Malairt ("Alternative"). To finance the mag he published an underground Irish language comic, Rosc Dubh (rosc meaning a deeper vision of poetry and dubh meaning black but also satire, so roughly translates as a satirical deeper vision of poetry). The local Irish speakers nicknamed it "Black Eye". It was printed by a local anarchist underground press. 1000 copies were printed and sold. He also drew for the Belfast People's Comic, and formed Ireland's first political street theatre, Free Soweto Street Theatre.
During the 1980s he worked as a freelance cartoonist for The Irish News, drawing a twice-weekly strip called Oscar agus Una. Many of the strips were censored under the then editor M. O'Brien, and it was replaced by a syndicated strip. He then went on to become a political cartoonist for Unity Press, drawing a strip called Reds, and help establish a radical bookshop, Well Red and New Books. He went on to form The Black August Street Theatre and designed sets for television films. By the end of the 1980s he was making a living as a full-time painter, sculptor and printmaker. His Simply Red Floating Sculpture opened The Ulster Museum's Japanese Exhibition.
In the 1990s Liam began to travel worldwide and became an art critic for The Irish News, the Ulster Tatler and Fortnight magazine, and wrote articles for Perspective. He was released from the Ulster Tatler after he designed the middle page spread in the style of a skateboard layout. One of his high points in traveling in America in the 1990s was meeting Robert Rauschenberg and Leo Castelli. In the late 1990s he was established in a studio in Switzerland by a patron. During the earlier 2000s He established and planned R.A.P's (RoscDubh Art Parties) from his studio in an old mental hospital in Belfast, holding art parties at private homes involving print shows, performance poetry, cabaret and magic.
His work has been exhibited worldwide and he was nominated for the Turner Price in 1993, represented Ireland at the International Celtic Festival at L'Orient, and won the Ercole d'Este prize in Italy. He still lives in Belfast, is a director on the Board of the Belfast Print Workshop and works from his studio located in the old Delorean car site.
2012 was a year of change for Liam, He lost his studio at the old Delorean car site due to floods, left the board of directors of the Belfast Print workshop to concentrate on his real creative work, became a mentor and was featured on the film Dallamullóg for TG4. He also found a new studio among the trees along the Lagan Towpath where he set up an Eco Arts Lab and is currently working on a new idea of creating the first Eco Arts Poetry Trail along a seven mile stretch of the Lagan Towpath.
- Ros Drinkwater, "Painter plants new ideas in the garden", Sunday Business Post, 4 May 2003
- Joe Jackson, "Never Letting Go of Love", The Independent, 18 May 2003