The Quicksilver Mine Co.
© Sonoma's Own
A Solo Exhibition by William O'Keeffe
March 31—April 15, 2007
British painter William O'Keeffe’s abstract
compositions are beautiful even if they’re not pretty. Intrigued by
the processes of rot, decay and the inherent grace of natural forms,
O'Keeffe builds three dimensional planes on his panels, small slices
of a world made with natural pigment, bone and organic matter and
reflecting close scrutiny of the minutiae of plant life, rock face,
decay, the detritus of tidal forces and the remains of mammals,
birds and insects. Concerned with paring form down to its bones,
O'Keeffe reflects rich sensuality as he creates landscapes that are
scarred, etched, corroded and abstract as the earth itself.
Born and educated in England, William O'Keeffe moved to the rocky western coast of County Clare, Ireland in 1991. This windswept land's end is a place of tiny canyons, rifts, natural bonsai trees and wild orchids on vast plains of limestone; here he began to break his art work down deeply in response to the ancient land surrounding him. After moving to the United States in 1997 he continued to be inspired by the rich sensuality, the intricacies and delicate balance of the natural world.
"The landscape, with its unique commingling of the fertile and the barren, the wild and the domestic, the visible and the invisible, the vast and the intimate, deserves to be thought of as the soul of our existence," says O'Keeffe. "The work collected in Wild Conflict is in great part a reaction to the rough karst of western Ireland’s coastal Burren area, the sere, secret beauty of the desolate Utah desert, the tidal detritus of the Point Reyes Seashore, and the snaking environs of the Russian River."
Beginning on March 9th, Wild Conflict continues in the Gallery through April 15th.
"Natural history as source material for my paintings has always been a religious interest. However, a major change in my perception of the natural world came when I was studying and cataloging flora and fauna for the Burren Wildlife Foundation in County Clare, Ireland. Influenced by the minutiae of decay, rot, and the inherent grace of natural forms, I started using organic material and other matter to create abstract works that are emblems for the intricacies and delicate balances that govern the mutual influence of each organism and its environment. I am still pursuing and respecting the rich sensuality of this natural world.
By using acrylic gel as a binder, I am able to incorporate natural pigments, bones, organic matter, sand, earth, wax, hair and paper into the work to create what I refer to as "Dreaming Landscapes." Ancient, historical, derelict—these landscapes are scarred, etched, corroded, and abstract; they are born out of feelings and observation of nature at work and do not represent any specific place or object.
I ask and hope that my work will give the individual the impetus to observe and discuss the natural world from an alternative perspective. The landscape with its unique commingling of the fertile and the barren, the wild and the domestic, the visible and the invisible, the vast and the intimate, deserves to be thought of as the soul of our existence. We owe the place that we inhabit respect, courtesy, and reverence. We should all have some practical knowledge of nature's domain."
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