CHRIS HIPKISS AND ROBYN O'NEIL: A CHILL IN THE AIR
January 22–April 29, 2012
Robyn O’Neil, Everything that stands will be at odds with its neighbor, and everything that falls will perish without grace, graphite on paper. Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Collection of Jeanne and Michael Klein and the Blanton Museum of Art, fractional and pledged gift, 2004. Photo: Rick Hall
Robyn O’Neil (CA) creates sweeping narrative drawings in graphite on a large scale—some as large as five feet tall by fourteen feet wide. For eight years, O'Neil developed a narrative series of drawings depicting an epic drama of weather, wildlife, and the human race.
Each installment follows an environment in flux, navigated by tribes of men in sweat suits and white tennis shoes struggling to survive against dominant natural forces. Meant to represent the everyman, these figures appear woefully out of place in their overwhelming and raw environment. Throughout the series, O’Neil suggests that their survival is questionable. Over the course of this entire account, her drawing techniques stretch and weave in response to the changing moods in each scene, from the high-contrast, hard-lined snowscapes of the earlier works to the smudgy overcast skies and murky seas in later works.
Chris Hipkiss, a British artist living in
Both artists’ work—the tri-paneled scenes by O’Neil and the vast scrolls by Hipkiss that stretch up to 35 feet—recall the layered narratives and complex landscapes of Northern Renaissance painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Similarly depicting roiling events of biblical proportions, Hipkiss and O’Neil allude to contemporary feelings of alienation and unease over a rapidly changing and increasingly volatile environment through the perilous scenarios they illustrate.