Stephen O'Donnell
95 / 15
May 5 - May 30, 2015

First Thursday reception
May 7, 2015
open until 8:00pm

Exhibition tour and discussion with the artists
Saturday, May 9, 2015
11am

Stephen O_Donnell

"Twenty years ago – to the month – I began my career as a professional artist. I almost began it by accident. I had never gone to art school, I had no slides of my work – I hardly had any work. But at the suggestions of friends – also artists – I made an appointment and went to talk with Victoria Frey, a major figure in the Portland art scene and the owner of Quartersaw Gallery. I was hoping for advice, hoping to get some idea about what I might need to try and get my work into a gallery. Instead, she looked at my work briefly and asked if I'd like to have a show.

So, May of 1995 marked my first exhibition. Five years later, when Quartersaw closed, I was picked up by Froelick Gallery - which had also started out in 1995 – and I've happily been with Charles and the gallery for fifteen years now. 

My first exhibited work couldn't be more different from the work I've done for the last several years. Tiny pen and ink drawings, explorations of childhood trauma, they were stylistically graphic and psychologically intense. At the time, I was also heavily influenced by the Hispanic culture I'd been so enamored of in my years in Los Angeles; the drawings were rather Frida Kahlo-esque, honestly. But, pretty soon, I started to include paintings in my shows – I'd always been a painter, primarily – and the work kept changing, growing toward something else. The change happened quite organically. I just did what I wanted to do next, wherever my interest took me. Through the years, as I gained in confidence and developed my skills, I settled into the themes and influences that my work is now best known for: gender reversal; the use of the portrait historié; sexuality; humor; historicism, usually with a strong late eighteenth-century French aesthetic.

At this point in my career – this personal landmark - I thought it would be interesting to look back to earlier work, to see what might still speak to me, and to allow myself to be inspired by some of those earlier themes. As an example of that, this show includes paintings of myself as a child; one is even a version of a piece from that very first exhibition in 1995. In the other paintings here there is, of course, much evidence of the themes that have been a constant in my work: historicism, gender, humor, the male nude, mythology. But I also wanted to look at what I hadn't ever really done - still-lifes, for instance – and see what I might make of that as well. So in several different ways, this body of work is a looking back and a looking forward, a return and a departure."

Stephen O'Donnell, 2015

Le Pince-nez Penchée
acrylic on panel
24 x 24 inches
$6,000  
Le Pince-nez Leda and the Swan
acrylic on panel
12 x 12 inches
$3,500  
Le Pince-nez Venus Cosmeticus
acrylic on panel
24 x 24 inches
$6,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Tatouage
acrylic on panel
24 x 24 inches
$6,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Narcisse
acrylic on panel
24 x 18 inches
$6,500  
M. le Comte Inconnu Une Lettre Non Décachetée
acrylic on panel
24 x 18 inches
$6,500  
Le Pince-nez Autumn into Winter
acrylic on panel
30 x 24 inches
$7,000  
Le Pince-nez Stevie
acrylic on panel
36 x 24 inches
$7,500  
M. le Comte Inconnu Pan
acrylic on panel
24 x 24 inches
$6,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Le Vermillon
acrylic on panel
12 x 12 inches
$3,500  
M. le Comte Inconnu A Precious Egg
acrylic on panel
12 x 12 inches
$3,500  
M. le Comte Inconnu The Costly Lorgnette
acrylic on panel
12 x 12 inches
$3,500  
M. le Comte Inconnu Divergence of Light I
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches
$2,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Divergence of Light II
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches
$2,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Divergence of Light III
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches
$2,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Divergence of Light IV
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches
$2,000  
M. le Comte Inconnu Still Life I - Wine Glass and Diary
acrylic on panel
16 x 16 inches
$3,200  
M. le Comte Inconnu Still Life II - Lemon and Turtle
acrylic on panel
12 x 12 inches
$3,000  
Le Pince-nez Bug
acrylic on panel
6 x 6 inches
$800  
Le Pince-nez Nut
acrylic on panel
6 x 6 inches
$800