Square Dance, Step III: Robyn O'Neil
It Could Have Been Worse:
selections of never-before-seen drawings 2000 - present
by Robyn O'Neil
Opening Reception Friday April 20, 5-8:00pm
at the River Oaks Bank Tower
2001 Kirby, #1011
Houston, TX 77019
Robyn O’Neil’s solo exhibition It Could Have Been Worse presents works on paper from the last 17 years. O’Neil customarily reserves one drawing from each body of work to remain in her studio; these pieces typically represent outliers, vestiges of past exhibitions, or works with specific and intimate context. DEASIL is honored to offer this perspective on O’Neil’s practice, with many never-before-seen compositions from her some of her most significant exhibitions.
It Could Have Been Worse includes works in O’Neil’s emblematic style as well as pieces that contain color, collage, and text. Each piece includes a horizon, implying a corporeal reference point in an otherwise obscure limbo. The characters in O’Neil’s fictitious universe show no ownership of the landscapes around them, and it is more discomforting that the only thing they have in common is that they are all on the verge of destruction. Mountains crumble, identity dissociates, congruence falls apart. O’Neil’s The Only Still Life I Ever Made depicts a vase of lifeless clippings, a funerary arrangement that is here forth an ironic reminder of mortality- even the title is an obituary. With so much focus on death, is that all there is? The requital might be found through meditation of futility, the poetry of silence, and the intuitive doom of the human condition.
The exhibition’s eponymous piece existed only as a sketch for years, then developed into a finished drawing which the artist judged too personal to accompany her larger production, until now.
O’Neil’s work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, an Artadia grant, and the Hunting Prize. O’Neil has had several traveling solo museum exhibitions in the United States, and her work is included in noted museums throughout the world. She received a grant from the Irish Film Board for a film written and art directed by her entitled “WE, THE MASSES” which was conceived of at Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School. The film won several awards at respected film festivals upon its release. O’Neil’s work is represented by Susan Inglett Gallery, Talley Dunn Gallery and Western Exhibitions. She also hosts the weekly podcast “ME READING STUFF.”