Although he trained and worked as a sign painter and his preferred medium is steel, Brian O’Neill works across a variety of mediums, creating a series of unique pieces.
With the piece Holland House/Library of Babel (26″x10″x10″, ink on mylar, 2007), O’Neill combines two iconic cultural moments: a 1940 photograph of men in bowler hats browsing for books in the bombed-out ruins of the Holland House Library in London and an English translation of Jorge Luis Borges’s La biblioteca de Babel (The Library of Babel). O’Neill recreates the photograph by copying the story on a series of mylar pages that, when assembled, form the image.
O’Neill’s paintings range from abstract expressive works to figurative paintings and portraits. They are marked by a smart compositions, a strong palette, and gestural brushwork.
Mother-Son Idyll is a tower made of thirty-one of the artist’s work gloves mixed with twent-one of his mother’s dress gloves. The top of the tower is a goat skull. Of the work, O’Neill said, “All homonymic puns intended. The goat is like a Biblical idol and the gloves, having finished their work lives, are idle.”
Brian O’Neill was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont. He studied art at Massachusetts College of Art and Cooper Union in New York before earning a Masters in Fine Art at the University of California at San Diego. He taught at the the University of Nairobi, worked as a sculptor’s assistant to Virginia Gunter and David Stromeyer, and works seasonally at Cold Hollow Iron Works.