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above: Eames psychedelic seasons remix (painted whilst listening to Forever Changes by Love), oil on canvas, 9ft x 9ft, 2008
I'm a fan of mid-century modern architecture as well as contemporary, surreal and pop art. So, it's no surprise that Eamon O'Kane's paintings were an exciting find for me. They embody elements all of the aforementioned harmoniously and remind me of two of my favorite artists, Alex Katz and David Hockney, in their flat but whimsical, colorful treatment.
To mark his US debut, Belfast-born Eamon O’Kane presents new, large-scale oil paintings depicting “recombinant” Modernist architectural masterpieces set in idyllic landscapes and the subversive yet subtle forces undermining the utopian ideal they evoke.
The Architect’s House
Rare Gallery, New York, USA
November 15 - December 20, 2008
above: Installation view RARE Gallery, New York, 2008
The Architect’s House
(from the press release and pdf of the exhibit):
In his first New York solo exhibition, entitled The Architect’s House, Eamon O’Kane presents new large-scale oil paintings that explore his fascination with architecture and landscape. Created during his residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris from April to June 2008, these works recombine elements of Modernist masterpieces and set them in idyllic landscapes to give voice to a contemporary utopian ideal. At the same time, O’Kane’s paintings reference the more subversive aspects of literature, cinema and design to demonstrate the impossibility of achieving this ideal.
above: Casa Bo Bardy Midday Sunset Mix With Shining Carpet, 84" x 60", oil on canvas, 2008
above: Lloyd Wright's Dream (painted whilst listening to Nevermind by Nirvana), oil on canvas, 9ft x 12ft, 2008
In Lloyd Wright’s Dream (2008), we are presented with an interior of a building by Frank Lloyd Wright that recently was completed, many years after his death. From the window of the room one can see the isolated, precariously perched “Vandamm House” from Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, which was a fictional building imagined by the film’s set designers but based on Wright’s architectural style. Cinematic allusions continue through the exhibition in works such as Casa Bo Bardi Midday Sunset Mix with Shining Carpet (2008). Here O’Kane draws a parallel between the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s movie The Shining, a structure which was built on a Native American burial ground and consumes its main character in the film, and the house that plays such a vital role in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Hints of Poe’s imagery also appear in Wright, Le Corbusier, Mondrian Mix with Plants from Edgar Allan Poe's Garden (2008), where creepy tendrils begin their choking crawl up the side of a hybridized Modernist structure.
O’Kane recognizes the dichotomy in his own paintings where he seems to offer the possibilities of hope, optimism and redemption with one hand while snatching them away with the other through his surreal, foreboding, and threatening allusions. According to the artist, “Society . . . traps us with our desires.
above: Philip Johnson night and day remix (painted whilst listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in blue), oil on canvas, 5ft x 7ft, 2008
Philip Johnson’s ‘Glass House’ is like a cage while at the same time being a wonderful piece of architecture.” So for O’Kane, a home is not just a home, and green rolling hills are not just green rolling hills -- they become symbols of a precarious scenario where utopia apparently is within reach but actually is on the verge of being obliterated by a disturbing presence that seems to be lurking just beneath the surface.
above: Wright, Le Corbusier, Mondrian Mix with Plants from Edgar Allan Poe's Garden, 2008, oil on canvas, 84" x 60"
above: Fallingwater seasons remix (painted whilst listening to In Utero by Nirvana), oil on canvas, 9ft x 9ft, 2008
above: Studio 1 evening southwest view, oil on canvas, 5ft x 7ft, 2008
above: ideal studio complex III (after Bates Maher), oil on canvas, 120 x 120cm (47.2 x 47.2 inches), 2008
above: pool west view morning (after Aalto), oil on canvas, 120 x 150cm (47.2 x 59.1 inches), 2008
above: tower east view midday, oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm (39.4 x 39.4 inches), 2008
November 15 – December 20, 2008
RARE, 521 West 26th Street, NYC
For additional information, please contact Pete Surace at 212.268.1520 or email@example.com.
See more of Eamon O'Kanes work at his site.
If you like Eamon's work, you may also be a fan of Danny Heller's wonderful paintings of eichler homes, Read all about those here.