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Alex O'Neal
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill

ARTIST STATEMENT: My drawings and paintings idiosyncratically depict circumstances that associate Americans, i. e. dysfunction, style as empowerment, nature worship, anarchy, Hollywood. The community in my work finds a vehicle in fictional Delta City, where isolation gives greater opportunity for local superstars and homegrown fashion. It is a deprived, rural landscape where signs state DIRT FOR SALE. Delta City makes references to self-taught sensibilities and is a hideaway for poorly-disguised, rebellious characters. Flamboyant, mean hippies possess talismans in the form of souvenir jewelry, reliquary rings, black lightning, and candy-striped objects, including donuts, phones and clothing. Supernatural characters speak "star language". An aspect of this community, obscured by its decoration, is its metaphor for the family unit with its resident anarchists and history of secrecy, symbolized by the often disguised participants. It has taken me awhile to naturally arrive at "portraits" of the characters of my work. Each subject's personal style has a piled-on, shrine mentality or aesthetic. Their natural adornments, such as pine cones and snails, keep old mythology and superstitions alive. The nostalgic telephones in my works suggest the communicative ability of art as well as a potential for mischief. Newly isolated forms in recent work are geometric shapes and patterns that refer to migraine auras I have experienced for twenty five years. These vibrating shapes, that relate to the striped objects and lightning in my past work, linger near my characters’ faces like Art Deco jewelry.

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Born 1957 in Starkville, Mississippi, and raised in the Delta, Alex O'Neal graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (BFA 1979) and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 1985). In the Eighties, his formal education overlapped regular visits with Mississippi self-taught artists, including Mary T. Smith and Luster Willis. O'Neal's drawings and paintings have been shown at the Drawing Center, New York; Festival International d'Art Singulier 2010, Aubagne, France;
City Without Walls, Newark, NJ; Rockefeller Art Center, SUNY Fredonia; BRIC Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell, Ithaca, NY; Fayerweather Art Gallery at University of Virginia; Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS; Francine Ellman Gallery, Los Angeles; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; One Illinois Center, Chicago; P.S.122, New York; Ecomuseu, Valls d'Aneu, Spain; LACE; Amory Arts Center, West Palm Beach; Red Clay Biennial at Huntsville Museum of Art, AL; Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta; ART LA; Laguna Gloria Museum, Austin, TX; and Linda Warren Gallery, Chicago. His work is in volumes 16 and 38 of "New American Paintings".
O'Neal been awarded fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts (2011, 2001), the
Camargo Foundation, France (2009), Council of Danish Artists, Copenhagen (2003), John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1999), Tennessee Arts Commission and Walter and Anne Knestrick Fund of Nashville (1998), and National Endowment for the Arts(1987-88). He has been a resident artist at Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France; Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Woodstock, NY; Refugium Klitgaarden, Skagen, Denmark; Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY; Saltonstall Foundation, Ithaca, NY; Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL; Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA; Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Temecula, CA; Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and Fundacion Valparaiso and Centre d'Art i Natura, both in Spain. The artist lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is represented by Linda Warren Gallery, Chicago.

647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217


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