Patrick O'Sullivan: paintings

Patrick O'Sullivan

Statement concerning my work:

    My Art follows a non-figurative approach. I am concerned with the creation of an abstract, shallow space that invests in the literal properties of paint and surface to create an object separate and distinct in character and revealing of its structure.

   For the past twenty years this has meant creating systems or patterns of work that lead to a painting. Usually this involves the selection of two or three types of gesture or ways of applying paint set against a pictorial structure that is austere and uncompromising in order to develop an underlying tension. The manner of paint application has evolved in my work to choosing the simplest, sometimes crudest, forms of manipulation. I want the various actions to be no more complicated than applying paint to a wall or to mimic an act apparently without aesthetic concern. The end result though, must transcend this process. For me to consider the work a success, the painting must have a character and quality that is hard to define and exists separate from me. It is the tension created by the point where the action of painting in its simplest form (and it’s physical properties) ends, and a different aesthetic and consideration of the object begins, that I am interested in.

  In order to explore this shallow space and the meaning of pictorial structure, I began in 2003 to work with different materials other than traditional canvas. These included polyester and polycarbonate sheeting.By making paintings on polyester and colouring the stretcher to include the support as a visual element, I attempted to consider the application and involvement of colour at the earliest stage.

The “architecture” of my process and the subsequent challenge to the surface became the intent. The painted surface itself though, remained ephemeral and lyrical, creating a tension between the “natural” mark and the design structure.

   My work of the last seven years attempts to push the idea of the painting as a structural object. I want to show the picture plane sometimes in tension or opposition with the structural support but always manipulated by it. These works have a familiarity, as though they are a part of something but without the viewer being able to make a positive identification. They are intended to be hard to place in time, as though they could be at the start of a construction or perhaps just a survivor or memento of something more significant. It is the tension between the apparent solidity of structure and the possibility of colour and light that continues to interest me. In part I have come to see this as a way of combining two sides of my character. I feel a need to deal with both the emotive, transcendent nature of colour through the material qualities of paint whilst also referring to a basic need to construct and build without adopting purpose or utility. For me, it is similar to attempting to resolve or marry two equations, both with a percentage of an answer. 

CV and Contact Details


Education:  MVA gained at the University of Alberta, edmonton Canada 1991


Select One Person shows:  

                                             The Boxfield Gallery, Stevenage 2012 

                                             The 491 Gallery London      2009

                                              The Boxfield Gallery,          2001


                                              Cable St gallery london       2000

Upcoming shows:  


The APT Gallery, London                    Opens 25th February 2016.


"The Cut" Arts Centre Halesworth          October 2016 








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