Robyn O’Neil


November 2 - December 14, 2013

Having concluded her narrative of epic drawings about the coming of an apocalypse to a vulnerable world populated with little men in track suits, O’Neil now searches to create imagery less concerned with storytelling as with capturing the sense of mystery and confusion as experienced within the dramatic spaces of the natural world. Unlike the hopelessness and disharmony found in earlier drawings, works such as Red Sky, Heaven, and New Mexico reveal the artist’s fascination with our perception of landscape and its humbling ability to inspire both wonder and fear. As intimated in the title of the exhibition, O’Neil’s concept of mirage suggests a place that might exist either in the past or in the future, a parallel or possible world, rather than a fixed space with a defined story. Each of the works is charged with an intense energy and sense of possibility, as dramatic mountain ranges and thick, cloudy skies fill each composition.

Inspired in part by the artist’s relocation from Houston to southern California two years ago, drawings such as California and Palm Tree/Night Walk depict curious palms and redwoods looming large against wide expanses of flat skies. Yet, instead of adopting a purely Romantic vision of nature, O’Neil examines her own perceptions, as she states, “I like to question it as much as I like to salute it.”

Born 1977 in Omaha, Nebraska, Robyn O’Neil received her B.F.A. degree from Texas A&M—Commerce and her M.F.A. degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago.  She currently lives and works in Thousand Oaks, California.  In 2006, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas, organized the artist’s first one-person museum survey which traveled to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington.  O’Neil has been included in many prestigious group museum exhibitions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as well as the 2004 Whitney Biennial.  Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.