October 18th - November 18th
The Road Gallery
New York, NY
"The central theme of this solo show by artist Joseph O'Neal is discovery. The poetic and evocative symbolism of catching, attracting and trapping ghosts helps us gain clear insights into O’Neal’s approach to his work and mindset." - The Road Gallery
Discovery, experimentation and creation are central to the very essence and being of an artist. The forces of intent, accident and necessity all play a part in the creative process, regardless of the discipline. In his most recent body of work represented in this show, artist Joseph O’Neal is confronted by all these dynamics. He describes his approach in this short essay, Trapping Ghosts. The poetic and evocative symbolism of catching, attracting and trapping ghosts helps us gain clear insights into O’Neal’s artistic process and mindset.
"It is my job to simply catch ghosts. The problem is ghosts never let you see them straight on and they never give you a signal of when they plan to appear. Most of my studio days are spent moving paint and material around structures as a rain dance in order to tempt the ghosts out of hiding. I do this by putting myself in positions that encourage accidents in hopes that some of these mishaps will attract a ghost. When a ghost shows up I acknowledge the preceding accident and can then create an environment that will foster more of the same. In some cases this means spilled coffee, or painting with rags rather than brushes, and often working with my less coordinated left hand. All of these along with a host of other strategies can be implemented as a gambit in the ghost game."
"The words on the paintings arrive the same way the other elements do; by showing up in the ether at the right time. The words are not meant to mean anything. This is not to say that they don’t mean something, just that they were not meant to mean anything. I realize that by putting words on the surface of my work that this will naturally cause viewers to look for symbols within the elements of the pieces for association. It is my intention that this back and forth will cause viewers to fall past the surface and experience the trapped ghosts."