Studio Critical Interview

Added on by Helen O'Leary.

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I’m just back from three months of being on the road; my gut response to the studio upon landing was one of bushwhacking, pairing down and getting rid of things that went too far or didn’t go far enough, with a fresh eye searching for the spare and dense.  I want the architecture of my paintings to be even lighter, and have to have more of an overlap with my personal world. I spent the first two weeks deep cleaning the studio, piling things high in the alley, erasing, and shedding, and getting back to the bare white bones of the studio. I re-mudded the walls, and am ready to go.

I’m thinking a lot about visual poetry, story telling, and the shifting gears between painting, visual wit, photography, and found text. I spent the summer working on a collaboration with my daughter Eva O’ Leary in Ireland about the current uncertainty with the economic downturn, and I’m taking the conceptual armature of the summer and translating it back into painting.

Our summer was a car full of cameras, a few clothes, a well marked map, and for three months we attempted to find the ‘back story’ of ‘uncertainty’ present in co-existing realities, economic: emotional, sexual, physical, etc. with photographs, texts culled from the Done Deal (on line broad sheet, the equivalent of craigs list) with its continued possibility of material gain and dating sites, with their grandiose promise of love and stability. This work will take the form of book and painted constructions, but as of now it is still very much a work in progress.
We are currently in the process of editing photographs and deciding on the next step of our collaboration. It was a great studio break, completely surrounded by invention and imagination, fabulous people and epic landscape. I fed my soul and came back ready to re-think the current trajectory in the studio.  

My work uses my life as subject matter, at middle age and mid career, post nuclear family, my continued unpacking and packing, belonging and retraction of homes between countries. I locate my work between the moments of material and emotional certainty, the short shelf life of predictability, both laughing at and questioning the structural prosthesis of conventions established through economic, cultural and gender constraints. Currently I’m interested in the uncertainty present in any economic downturn or change, between youth and middle age, and in the rupture between external and internal life. I look outside and within the tradition of painting for content, and lately been looking at the form inherent in sean-nos singing, (lament) for its economy of form and the content and meaning inherent in it’s frugal self containment, and have used a similar self containments in my approach to painting.


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