Ways & Means

Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles

From the press release for Way and Means at Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles, January 2012:

Brian O’Connell’s practice relies on a variation of preformulated procedures and the idiosyncratic developments of materials and processes.  Often modifying techniques developed for other disciplines, eras and purposes both within and outside of explicitly artistic contexts, his work is a record of it’s own adaptive use. 

Turrell Exposures, a series of cyanotypes made directly on the surface of architectural spaces (in this case James Turrell’s installation Meeting at MoMA-PS1 in New York), document both light and architecture in a non-differentiated image, creating an uncanny connection between the temporal and the physical. In these prints photosensitive medium is applied using a large brush, the marks of which remain in the image, as do the unpredictable signs of the ripples caused by air flowing through the space. The result is a hybrid between photographic and gestural indices, which capture both a specific period of exposure and a longer process of production.

Similarly, the ever-growing stacks of O’Connell’s B(n)CC drawings on non-carbon transfer paper mark time in images. A stylus is used on the top page of a stack of paper, but the inky trace of the stylus appears on the sheet below that top sheet—only in turning the page does the artist see his drawing. These drawings can never be singular; rather, they are each a response to the images made on the preceding pages.  The result is a series of iterative drawings documenting both formal and psychological responses over time, all made in anticipation of a future moment.

O’Connells Concrete Paintings are made by pouring concrete into wooden molds, the molds then twist and bend under the weight of the added material. Referencing the gray monochrome (painting’s end), as well as the legacy of Brutalist architecture’s use of molded concrete, they are literally Arte Concret.

In each of these series, the procedure is as intrinsic to the work as its material embodiment.  O’Connell encourages copies and reuse of his processes, and to this end we introduce waysandmeans.us.  The website details not only the Ways (places, people, experiences) but also the Means (materials, process, instructions) of O’Connell’s practice, expanding the notion of production, both materially and philosophically, in a frank how-to detailing of the techniques used.

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