Robyn O'Neil: bodybuilder and sportsman.
There are numerous scenes of death and despair in O'Neil's frigid northland. The quintet of dead birds of Five More Fallen is surprisingly moving, regardless of whether this is a picture of hunting victims or a kind of et in Arcadia ego. The artist's economical hand is everywhere present; she uses the white of the paper to stand in for snow or sky, and no more than a fraction of any given sheet is covered with her feathery graphite touch. And Then They Were upon Him (the work's title alters the gender of the last line of Shirley Jackson's famous short story "The Lottery" and also lends the show its name) is far larger than the other works; behind yet another version of Lotto's tree--its one living branch a harbinger of life--a casual assault takes place. A few dozen men perfunctorily throw stones (snowballs?) at a fallen figure to the right, with a sense more of offhand target practice than of ritualistic murder. In the end it doesn't matter which--O'Neil's project is to evoke a place where the normal rules of behavior don't apply, where stark nature is accompanied by stark humankind. But in the absence of the laws and ideas that make up civilization, O'Neil sees a potential release of savagery, a kind of disorientation of place that reveals mankind's often horrific tendencies. While the allegorical tradition that intrigues her usually held out the promise of improvement and challenge, O'Neil herself hints that there are darker forces at work, a kind of core human insensitivity that cannot be wished away. With imagination and disarming straight-forwardness, she takes us to the brink of that world.
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|Title Annotation:||Chicago; works on paper|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2004|
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