Each work of art by Olivia-Patricia Terrell O’Neal feels like a journey between metaphors. Her paintings are realistic and truthful, yet they resonate with archetypal power. The mother, the daughter, departure and uprooting are canvases filled with symbols.
In Olivia-Patricia’s artistic production, the subject of travel loses its elements of pleasure and takes on mysterious connotations. A metaphysical silence hovers over the canvases. The paintings capture the viewer emotionally: mother and daughter separate in an intimate and painful embrace. A family departs, projected into an unknown future, leaving shadows of a hazy past in the background. Diverse faces of immigrants tell of individual suffering, like different stories intersecting in the same compressed space. Olivia-Patricia delineates powerful scenes. It feels like watching the frame of a film projection. They are paintings that are open to stories. We do not know what happened before or after, but we can imagine it.
Olivia-Patricia’s figurative narratives open up questions about the destinies of her subjects. Where are the immigrants headed with their bulky bags and suitcases? And where is the family leaving from? Or where is the prodigal daughter going, a famous biblical reference morphed into the feminine? The destinations are journeys into the unknown. We perceive the emotional aspects: the weight of distance, separation, and future expectations.
The emotional element gains even more value through the skillful use of colours. The painter uses a limited colour palette of dark tones: ultramarine blue deep, burnt umber, white, and possibly yellow ochre, enlivened by symbolic touches of colour. The painter’s technique is also a creative process open to intuition.
Her motifs take shape in different steps, changing from brushstroke to brushstroke. Olivia-Patricia creates her paintings from various charcoal sketches, capturing the magic of inspiration thanks to this rapid technique. From this starting point, she continues to elaborate, letting the flow dictated by the painting guide her. Her creative process is itself a journey of imaginative discovery.
The intuitive aspect is primary in the painter’s practice, so much so that among her most relevant references is the experimental painting of the 1960s, capable of radiating a spiritual force. Foremost among them is painter Jay De Feo, whose vast and rough surfaces reveal celestial connections. Olivia-Patricia is a figurative painter, not an abstract artist like Jay De Feo. Still, her works are multi-layered with meaning and embodied energy from the mere canvas.
Raised in Tennessee, Olivia-Patricia Terrell O’Neal graduated with an MFA degree from the New York Academy. She works in the United States, Mexico and France, where her works are part of a permanent collection at Chateau St. Philippe. She has collaborations with solid international galleries to her credit and 14 solo exhibitions, and she doesn’t stop: the journey is a foundational component of her subjects and artistic process.
Olivia-Patricia Terrel O’Neal is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Journey call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Journey issue.