Robyn O’Neil’s imagined landscapes, precisely drawn graphite, investigate evolution, apocalypse, natural disaster and extinction with imagery that is surreal—separated from the flow of time. Ominous clouds and landmasses, monks, ears, mysterious female figures, faceless busts and other enigmatic characters float over craggy and rolling landscapes. The subjects are illuminated by strange, almost heraldic light cast through mystical clouds, calling to mind Pre-Renaissance painting. Personal narratives are embedded in the symbolism and suggested in the titles, without ever divulging the full story. Disembodied heads and silhouettes of ghosts populate the newest drawings, something, she says, that has to do with hallucinations and memory. “Not only are these shadow images conjuring up the people I mourn, I’m also referencing and celebrating the very origins of art-making with this new work. These are my cave paintings.”
Robyn O’Neil has had solo museum exhibitions at The Des Moines Art Center; The Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin; The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; and the Frey Art Museum in Seattle. She has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout the US and internationally including the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; American University Museum in Washington, DC; and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tampa, Florida. Her work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. O’Neil has participated in gallery shows in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Shanghai, NYC, Los Angles, Miami, Chicago, and Seattle. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Irish Film Board Award for a film written and art directed by her entitled “WE, THE MASSES” which was conceived at Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School. She is represented by Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Susan Inglett Gallery in New York and Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, and she lives and works in Los Angeles.