Thursday, October 03, 2019

CLONEGAL-based artist Mark O’Neill is set for a return to the national stage at Gallery Zozimus, ten years on from his last sold-out shows in Dublin.

Opening on Thursday 3 October and running until the last day of the month, Back to mine will take two meanings, with O’Neill reflecting scenes of home while embracing his roots and revisiting style and techniques.

“Mark O’Neill built his reputation with very high-profile corporate clients and well-known authors, even producing posters for Warner Brothers’ film Back to the future,” said Vincent Kelly, director at Gallery Zozimus. “His move to Ireland is where he concentrated his focus on painting and he quickly built up a following for his rural scenes, which evoke a nostalgic warmth portrayed in beautifully recognised ways.”

Artist Mark O’Neill at work in his studio in Clonegal

A recipient of the Adams Artist of the Future award at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1991, Lancashire-born O’Neill established himself as one of the most sought-after artists in the country. This led to exposure on the international stage with his participation in the ‘Ireland crossing borders’ exhibition in New York, seeing his pieces sell out.

He was one of the most commercially successful artists during the heady days of the Celtic Tiger and, at one stage, held an auction where his paintings were sold to the highest bidders.

These days, Mark lives with his husband Rodney in their converted mill house in Clonegal, surrounded by beautiful scenery and myriad animals. A short walk from the mill house, with its pristine lawn sweeping down to the Slaney is a thatched former fishing lodge, which serves as a studio.

“Being a fan of contemporary music, I decided to call my new exhibition Back to mine as a nod to the series of albums released on the DMC label entitled the same,” said O’Neill.

“Artists such as Faithless, Morcheeba, and Groove Armada have released music in this series, where they choose tracks that they have been inspired by or were currently listening to. It’s a fascinating insight into their work and musical influences and it draws a neat parallel to my own work, as I currently take stock as to what direction my paintings are taking.

“The title can be taken on two different levels. Many subjects featured in this exhibition are found back in my home in Clonegal. Flowers and vegetables featured in the still-life pieces have been grown in my garden, sheep and cattle can be seen in neighbouring fields, pathways and lanes are travelled during walks with my dog. On a more expansive interpretation, Back to mine refers to a return, in style, to a more painterly fashion that I used in my work several years ago.”

Back to mine will run from 3-31 October in Gallery Zozimus, 56 Francis Street, Dublin 8.

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By Elizabeth Lee
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