Geraldine O’Neill : Reciprocal Space

13 September 2012

There is a humorous irony to these works which are so saturated in symbolism they cease to be about any singular narrative or at least from any one perspective. The physical canvases are themselves paradoxes, questioning their own nature within the systems they depict. The segmented layers of foreground and background dismissively demonstrate the ease at which illusion can be created and laugh at us for celebrating it. It would be too easy and dismissive then of Geraldine’s wit and ability to suppose the works are operating as a sort of moral compass, aiding us to see a righteous way. Instead they mock our appetite for public forecast and desire for guidance.


O’Neill’s painterly explorations are encompassing of object, metaphor and constructs, any image being given to us in canvas form becomes closer to the essence of the thing than their physical counterpoints could retain. It is through the act of being carriers [of metaphor] that the representations of physical items slink between our world and another, fictions and reality, utopian, dystopian but also heterotopias. The T.V in Untitled I is threshold of virtual space, a junction where the real and un-real must pass through, like mirror, or canvas “connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal”.

The divergent styles of paint application suggests the speak of several active voices, each with alternate outlooks on the same world. This brute amalgamation of perception makes the works of no particular time and as such belonging of any time. Through this we are given the gift of subjectivity, to become a neutral observer in what might well be a version of our own tale. The removal of self-instils an urgency to come to terms with personal and group consequence, introduced to us through the entrance of the vulnerable youth as protagonist. In Bird pie, the chalkboard acts as place to level out any such equation. But we are given the endless and ungraspable to equate.


There is a similarity of subject matter in the works and of those made by Hieronymus Bosh, symbolic depictions of birds, butterflies and cadavers. Bosh was regarded as “the inventor of monsters and chimeras” O’ Neill’s monsters however are of a very real kind, an awareness and yet incomparability of one’s mortality. The food substances are rotting the symbols of hope and aspiration are either dead or deflating. There is a passive albeit overriding conversation about the futility and fragility of life which all of the pickles and preservatives can merely frame. However-O’Neill’s Brute framework by its very nature does not impose a trump or didactic view so even futility can become counterpoint to itself, a liberating thing perhaps?


Ailbhe O’Connor