In my paintings based on modernist architecture I am interested in exploring the fantasy of a perfect space, together with a realization that the fantasies about where you want to live, what you want to do, are just fantasies. Reality exists in the processes that attempt to make them happen. The Modernist in architecture and design was an interesting period in that respect in that so many people attempted to achieve different types of utopias and quite often failed nobly in the process. I often use colour to heighten certain emotional states in the paintings and to, in turn, point to seasonal changes and time passing. In my paintings I am interested in setting a stage for something to happen.
(LOS ANGELES) Edward Cella Gallery proudly presents an exhibition in two parts entitled Biorealism featuring the work of Eamon O'Kane that spans Los Angeles and is the largest presentation to date of the architecturally inspired paintings by this Irish born, Denmark based artist and educator. Fostering dialogues about Modern architecture's enduring appeal, domesticity, climate change, and the role of representation in painting, the exhibition is the artist's first solo exhibition with the gallery that has long explored the increasingly porous and intertangled boundaries of architecture, design and art.
Calling attention to the geographical context of Southern California which has long inspired the O'Kane's ongoing series called, Ideal Homes, the exhibition presents new medium and large format paintings that depict a selection of the celebrated Mid-Century architecture of Los Angeles and Palm Springs set in the dynamically changing natural and man-made landscapes of the region. The exhibition will include paintings that depict homes and buildings by A. Quincy Jones, William Krisel, and Richard Neutra among others.
O'Kane depicts the enduring appeal of these much-loved architectural icons that were originally planned and built to foster harmonic relationships between design, domesticity, shelter, and nature with the aim of nurturing and educating the inhabitants of a modern world. In the artist's words, "I see a role for art to probe architecture, design and planning, to re-evaluate the past, and to begin to construct and re-imagine a possible future."
The title of the exhibition itself is a direct reference to philosophy of Modernist architect Richard Neutra who coined the term "biorealism" in his groundbreaking treatise, Survival By Design (1954) and was intended to inscribed "the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature." Neutra joined the Greek word bios, meaning life, and realism as he believed that architecture took its' cue from how humans behave and evolve, and for him, ultimately, art and architecture must address the senses. O'Kane sees this concept as an informative way of describing his painting agenda and artwork in general. At once fanciful, atmospheric, fanciful and theoretical, the artists seeks to reveal an emotional character in his paintings that emerges from buildings themselves and their settings.
Regularly pulling source materials for his ongoing series paintings from his research of the architectural magazines of the post-war era which featured photographs by Julius Shulman and others, O'Kane was inspired to make a pilgrimage to Southern California last year to visit many of these sites in person. In contrast to the historical photographs that conjured an idealized life of architectural flawlessness, the artist was confronted with the shifts that both time and climate have brought about and began to consider more purposefully our desires and fears in the creation of his newest visceral and evocative paintings. Reimagining the paradisaical perfection of these structures, O'Kane uses abstract flat planes of bright saturated colors and to dislocate the structures from their surrounding landscape which are sometimes inundated by flood and sometimes engulfed in the acrid smoke of uncontrolled wildland fire, and other current day environmental effects.
For O'Kane his experience called to mind a passage written by Richard Neutra more than seventy-five years ago, "The universe of which we are a part is a dynamic continuum. It extends from the most distant galactic systems into our atmosphere, biosphere, and terrestrial mantle, wafting even deeper into an energetic array of molecular and subatomic events that configure all matter, motion, and mind. Our skin is a membrane, not a barricade.... The most remote contours of the cosmos are not just 'out there somewhere' but causally interlaced with the nearest and deepest folds of our interior landscape."
Biorealism sets the stage as a means for experiencing Eamon O'Kane's ongoing development of his internationally exhibited practice in a new and site-specific way. The exhibition will be presented in two concurrent parts with a portion of the exhibition presented in the neutral "white box" space of the Edward Cella Gallery in Inglewood and the other at the Thomas Lavin Showroom at the Pacific Design Center which will juxtapose the painting within the context of collections of contemporary design and furnishings on view that evoke the present interiors of the homes depicted in the paintings themselves. In this way, those who choose to view the paintings in both configurations are invited to consider the works in two states: from outside looking in and from the perspective of the individuals who reside in domestic interiors of the homes today. Additionally, the two part nature of the exhibition extends and expands the multi-year collaboration between Edward Cella Gallery and the Thomas Lavin Showroom in bringing together the very best of art and design and fostering an informed dialogue between these disciplines.
The artist's exhibitions in Los Angeles will follow the closing of his most recent exhibitions The Nature of Things at Galerie Andres Thalmann in Paris, France; Forest at Norske Grafikere Galleri, Oslo, Norway and Fluid Spaces at Høyersten Contemporary, Bergen, Norway and will run concurrently with Anarchive at the Source Arts Center, Thurles, Ireland and an exhibition co-curated by the artist at the Worth Ryder Gallery at U.C. Berkeley entitled Transformations and Disruptions: The Challenges and Opportunities of AI for Human Creativity. Each of these projects offer insights into the interdisciplinary and multifaceted practice of the artist that span paintings, drawing, sculpture, printmaking and photography along with installation and video.
ABOUT EAMON O'KANE
Eamon O'Kane (born 1974, Belfast, Northern Ireland) explores the ideological tropes and visual forms of modernist architecture in his paintings and immersive sculptural installations. He received his B.A. in the History of Art and Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland in 1996 and went on to earn his M.F.A. at the University of Ulster, Belfast in 1998 and later an additional M.F.A. in Design Technology at Parsons School of Design, New York in 2001. O'Kane has exhibited internationally, and recent solo exhibitions include The Model Arts Centre, Sligo, Ireland (2022); Galerie DGV, Svendborg, Denmark (2022); Galerie Andres Thalmann, Zuirch, Switzerland (2020); Josef Filipp Galerie, Leipzig, Germany (2019); Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, Ireland (2019); Funen Art Museum, Odense, Denmark (2019); and Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA (2019). He is preparing for solo exhibitions with Galleri Christoffer Egelund, Copenhagen, Denmark (2023) and Ballina Arts Centre, Ireland (2024). His work is held in the public collections of Burda Museum, Baden Baden, Germany; Lentos Art Museum, Linz, Austria; Museum of Fine Arts, Brest, France; META/Facebook, Dublin and The Arts Council Collection, Ireland. Recently he has been awarded Norwegian Arts Council Grant (2020) and the EV+A Biennial Award (2005) and previously a Fulbright Award, Pollock Krasner Foundation Award, and Taylor Art Award. His monographs include Hybrids (Academy of Art and Design, Norway, 2013); Eamon O'Kane: And Time Begins Again (University of Bergen, 2009); and Case Histories (ArtSway and Rugby Art Museum, UK, 2009). He currently lives and works in Odense, Denmark and is Professor of Painting at The Art Academy, University of Bergen, Norway.
ABOUT HIMALAYA CLUB
Located in Inglewood, California and presented in the studio of artist Lucas Reiner, Himalaya Club is an ongoing collaborative project providing space for local and out of town artists to introduce their work to audiences in Southern California through exhibitions. Himalaya Club has hosted artists from Rome, London, Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Lviv, and Rapid City, South Dakota. Works by Johannes Spalt, Agata Bogacka, Fabian Cereijido, Michael Dressel, Thomas Kratz, Francesco Siqueiros, and Marty Two Bulls, among others, have been shown.
ABOUT EDWARD CELLA ART & ARCHITECTURE
Edward Cella Art & Architecture is committed to supporting significant established, mid-career, and emerging artists, architects, and designers. Nurturing this hybridity, the gallery uniquely exhibits photography, painting, sculpture, architectural drawings, models, and design objects with an emphasis on the intersection of these disciplines. Edward Cella founded Edward Cella Art & Architecture in 2006, building on his background as an architectural historian with a decade of experience in art advisory and collection management and a passion for collecting architectural drawings and ephemera, as well as contemporary art. The gallery sustains a curatorial emphasis on discourses surrounding issues of cultural and conceptual significance and has represented historical and under-recognized estates and collections.
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