Olivia-Patricia Terrell O’Neal’s paintings let us experience a distant connection to ourselves, allowing us to watch inside from an outside perspective. Her art inspires us to take a step back and wonder how others experience the world and how we can take wisdom from observing and accepting other points of view.
In Olivia-Patricia’s portraits, eyes are hidden behind glasses, leaving the viewer in a position of freedom to imagine. To be curious about the intensity, softness, and expression of the portrayed figures.
One painting, almost like a sculpture made from stone, captures a person with white hair and gold complexions (In Gold Shades). The other is a young figure with red glasses looking and not looking right over the left shoulder of their audience (The Boy with Red Shades). The last portrait shows a person framed by large sunglasses and a butterfly on the shirt, giving the image a fragile but untouchable sensation (The Butterfly Shades).
Each portrayed figure has a suggested posture of looking. In gold shades, a person depicted is poised and straight looking, supported by the dark magenta- themed colour in the background, giving the image a royal feeling. Warmer colours guide the boy with red shades, and the almost unnoticeable smile and slight opening of the body invites us for a conversation. The portrayed person in The Butterfly Shades is embedded in soft yellow and beige. Except for the face, everything else seems to be surrounded by a light shimmer of fog—lending the painting something mystical.
Olivia-Patricia is inspired by the German expressionist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945). Käthe’s art speaks of questioning the social balance and injustice during her time, and her art can be seen as a platform for humanity. Both female artists display the quality of including softness in harsh surroundings, putting colours or brush strokes in ways the gaze of the audience can enjoy and at the same time start reflecting on what touches the eye.
The choice of hiding the eyes with glasses in Olivia-Patricia’s portraits is a powerful tool to guide the spectator to ask what might be hidden and how artists can share without being seen. This is a clever way of provoking questions like: ‘What can we see in everyday life, and what do we miss?’
Olivia-Patricia Terrell O’Neal was raised in Nashville. She finished her academic education with honours from Washington University, followed by extensive studies in France and Italy. Olivia-Patricia achieved her MFA degree from the New York Academy of Art. International galleries have managed her career, and she has had 14 solo exhibitions and numerous group shows. Her work is in a permanent collection at Chateau St. Philippe in France. Olivia-Patricia maintains studios in the USA, France, and Mexico.
Olivia-Patricia Terrell O’Neal is the Silver Artist of the ArtAscent Portraits call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Portraits issue.