Critics’ Reviews

THE BLACKBOARDS by Ruth Weisberg

Ruth Weisberg is an internationally acclaimed artist and the former Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California.

John O’Connor’s blackboard paintings are based on a series of compelling paradoxes. What seems like on accumulation of spontaneous gestures is really the product of painstaking planning and premeditation. Verisimilitude and conceptualism are usually thought of as polar opposites, but in O’Connor’s oeuvre they form a thought-provoking and poetic alliance. In this work, tromp l’oeil realism is placed at the service of such complex ideas as creativity and extinction.  Read more…

 

BACK TO SCHOOL by Gerard Haggerty

Gerard Haggerty writes for ARTnews.

The dust of history is more than a metaphor. We’ve all seen it. In fact, we spent our formative years–day after day–sometimes hungry for knowledge but always eager for recess, staring at that dust. Most folks are likely to think they behold it again when they see the work of John O’Connor, an artist who has spent more than a decade painting representations of blackboards that are virtually indistinguishable from the chalk-dusted slabs of slate they depict. Read more…

 

THE TRUTH OF ILLUSION by Richard Vine

Richard Vine is managing editor of Art in America.

John A. O’Connor is engaged in one of the oldest–and arguably one of the strangest–endeavors in the history of Western art. The impulse toward pure illusionism, the desire to fool the eye and mind of the viewer, was a major component of Greek naturalism. This shift from symbolic to lifelike representation is  Read more…

 

 

JOHN O’CONNOR: HOW YOU SEE IT, HOW YOU DON’T by Peter Frank

Peter Frank is an art critic for the L.A. Weekly and former art critic for The Village Voice.

Almost from the inception of his career, John O’Connor’s art has explored that fertile interstice between idea and image, that place where language sprouts, flourishes, fails, and rises again. He is not alone in plumbing these heights and scaling these depths: what he calls “conceptual realism,” where word and picture, concept and concretion mesh and metamorphose one into another, is a durable tendency in American art. But O’Connor has embraced it with a thoroughgoing passion–as well as a quick intellect and slippery wit. Read more…

 

ILLUSION, IMAGINED REALITY by August L. Freundlich

August L. Freundlich was President of the Richard Florsheim Art Fund, Dean of Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts and the former Dean of the College of Fine Arts, University of South Florida.

Illusion, imagined reality, these are the substance of John O’Connor’s painting. The paintings belie the fact that his other persona–that of teacher and administrator–deals in the everyday real. That is the everyday reality faced in the university and the studio. Throughout his career, John has been widely engaged in such topics as Read more…

 

REAL ILLUSIONS by John Grande

John Grande is an author and art critic for various Canadian publications.

John O’Connor’s paintings are neither a window on the world nor are they abstract in the purist sense. The pictorial language of representation, the iconic language of abstraction, even the act of painting itself are all challenged in O’Connor’s work–not as process, but in terms of how we conceive of representation in our mind’s eye.  Read more…

 

JOHN O’CONNOR’s 2005 RETROSPECTIVE by William Zimmer

William Zimmer was an art critic for the New York Times.

More than most artists John O’Connor is comfortable with contradiction. It’s the dynamic of his career. Some of his major paintings are exemplary specimens of trompe l’oeil that required the discipline and attentiveness of a monk copying a manuscript. Narrowness is far from all, however. For example, as a teacher he Read more…