Helen O’Leary’s work in painting and sculpture draws on her Irish background, and explores with deftness, rigor and craft, the idea of origin, of how everything we subsequently become has been framed by the visual, cultural, moral and emotional lines of definition that are drawn around our formative childhood worlds.
For this exhibition the artist will be building a series of large scale 'history' paintings made from thwarted joinery, armatures, insets and shelves that both display all of their components and continually rebuild and reframe their own structure and meaning.
O’Leary’s painterly explorations are located between moments of material and emotional certainty, the short shelf life of predictability, both laughing at and questioning the structural prosthesis of conventions established through economic, cultural and gender constraints. This new work concerns itself with the uncertainty present in any economic downturn or change, between youth and middle age, and in the rupture between external and internal life.
The artist would like to acknowledge the support of the Joan Mitchell Centre, New Orleans, the Lesley Heller Workspace, New York and Penn State University for their continuous commitment to her practice.
Watch our Meet the Artist video with Helen O'Leary.