Kevin O'brien - Homage to Dubuffet’s Homage to Klee’s Senecio (if it existed)
Homage to Dubuffet’s Homage to Klee’s Senecio (if it existed)
This piece is a homage to a homage of Klee’s Senecio and references some of the color and detail he displayed.

36 in height X 24 in width X 4 in depth

- 4088€ Available -


Kevin O'brien

Influenced by Van Gogh (and Abstract Expressionism), Rauschenberg, Klee, Dubuffet, surrealism, dada, pop art, jimi hendrix and high-energy jazz (e.g., Coltrane), etc.

I was attracted to Expressionism because of its power, but also because of the times (I was born in the early 1950’s and by the time my style began to develop, Abstract Expressionism had been everywhere for quite a while). At the most superficial level, Expressionism of this type might first seem like maneristic traces of surface-level texture, but then the power of the energy from the lines begins to sink below the surface and starts to merge with the energy of the entity, itself. This is why I refer to my work as “high-energy, ” adopting the term from jazz of the 1960’s (which, by the way, also influenced my work), amongst others.

Surrealism also had an impact – its super-focus and startling sharpness helped provide a basis for the glistening effects I like to add to some works. Its rearrangement of shape and form helped me to melt normal shapes into new forms, which could better be used to express the energy. The collage work of Rauschenberg and others further contributed to the breaking down of the normal arrangement of form.

Paul Klee and others developed a language of symbols. I use symbols as representations of basic entities, which then have an energy. The symbol is the framework through which the energy flows.

Dubuffet, among others, promoted the idea of Art Brut. I have studied art from early cultures and also that created by children. My goal is to rediscover the methods of painting/drawing, in a natural and non-repetitive manner. I did not want to develop my own imitation of average painting techniques. I wanted to find new ways of applying the paint and the pencil, start re-discovering simple painting techniques by myself, from the very beginning. Working with children helped me to see some of the natural ways they approached things, before they were indoctrinated, socialized. In my three dimensional work, I try to use my own crude carpentry to build the infrastructure (again, techniques I have developed myself, which do not necessarily use well-defined carpentry techniques). I disdain the slick and polished in favor of these primitive techniques, which I have developed over the last 36 years. This is also the approach I took developing in the “look and feel” of my Web site.

But, even more important than technique is the idea of beauty, itself. Art is not about beauty and it should not be taken as being synonymous with it. Besides the sleek, polished and pretty forms often seen, there is also a rugged form of beauty that should be considered appropriate for artwork. There should not be a narrow, limited range in which art must reside. The ruggedness can often add strong, simple power.

Concept is important, but for me, the work must also show the hand of the artist. Artwork that dœs not entertain a particular concept can begin to approach rote copying. But a piece of art that only demonstrates concept, for me, cannot clearly indicate that it was made by a human. For my taste, I would prefer both.

I try to use materials which I consider to represent the basic building blocks of industrial culture, and incorporate them into my paintings. This is so that I can make my vision clear, in the most common terms. That way, vocabulary is not a problem. But more than this, you cannot really do art that dœs not represent your own culture (I feel). Although I acknowledge this, I also deride this by using those common materials and objects in unexpected ways.
Some consider that pop art was a reaction to abstract expressionism. I was affected by both. Although the emotional power and spontaneous brush strokes are there, I often tend to use an icon familiar to everyday life, albeit displayed in ways that are not necessarily realistic in nature. Other times, I will forgo the well-known symbol and extend my set of symbols with a new one, but the existence of the others is important to the entire language I am trying to express to the viewer. Without some of the symbols familiar to them, they might lose a context for what I am trying to say.

I do not feel that use of the basic materials of painting has been exhausted, or that art now must explore new materials/media to be able to make a valid statement.

Finally, since, to me, the spiritual is directly self-evident, it is also present in my work. The political and socio-political are things that are foreign to my art.

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