Robyn O’Neil

3 Feb — 11 Mar 2017 at Susan Inglett Gallery in New York, United States

ROBYN O'NEILGovernment Bureau (after Tooker), 2016Graphite on paper22 3/4 x 30 in. Sheet25 3/4 x 32 3/4 in. Frame(RO0097)Courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.
ROBYN O'NEILGovernment Bureau (after Tooker), 2016Graphite on paper22 3/4 x 30 in. Sheet25 3/4 x 32 3/4 in. Frame(RO0097)Courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.
15 FEB 2017

Susan Inglett Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Robyn O’Neil, The Good Herd, from 3 February 2017 to 11 March 2017. A reception for the artist will be held Friday evening 3 February from 6 to 8 PM.

In her third solo show with the Gallery, Robyn O'Neil returns to the raw materials and tools that have endured to supply her simplest and most profound statements over the course of her career — large-format, graphite on paper — rendering human bodies and landscape in relationship, from beginning to end.

With 2011’s Hell, O’Neil used the plights, blunders, and misdeeds of tiny men in sweat suits to tell the story of humanity in celebration and battle with the self and the world. If Hell represented a nightmarish end-of-days, O’Neil seems to have conceptually started over in the years that followed, returning to bare landscape, quiet rolling space, and the hope of new beginnings — a fitting run up to the re-introduction of the human image in this recent cycle.

“Now that I am working with the figure again,” said O’Neil, “it has become clear how vital these people are to what I do. The stories I’ve always wanted to tell have focused on the difficulties of being human, roaming this planet in our too human bodies. I’m back to pencil and paper, and I’m back to imagining the obstacles that my guys will overcome. Or not.”

Much of Robyn O’Neil’s new work focuses on the head, groups of heads to be exact — men on the move, unaware of each other or where they might be headed, faces obscured and unseeing, incapable of escaping their destiny. These drawings are, in part, an inspired reimagining of the group isolation shown in George Tooker’s painting Government Bureau, as well as the truncated repetition of bodies and body parts in Philip Guston’s Clothes Inflation Drill. Combining this anxious narrative with detailed landscape and a clear nod to medieval and Proto-Renaissance Italian painting, the artist gives us a picture of Hell tempered by a glimpse of Heaven. The Future may seem dark but there is grace in the detail. Though these heads cannot see each other, they are seen by us, and so there is kinship. They are not alone, nor are we.

Robyn O’Neil [Omaha, Nebraska, 1977] lives and works in Los Angeles, California. O’Neil has been honored with major solo exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas, which traveled to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington. Her work has been seen in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally including the Whitney Biennial, “Dargerism” at The American Folk Art Museum, NYC, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illionois, the American University Museum in Washington, DC, and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tampa, Florida. O’Neil is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2008 and the Hunting Prize in 2009. She received a grant from the Irish Film Board to make an animated short conceived at Werner Herzog's Rogue Film School. The film, WE, THE MASSES, won several awards at film festivals throughout the country. Robyn also hosts one of the highest rated poetry & literature podcasts “Me Reading Stuff.”