by Eva Kubickova Pina Rodrigues
6 May 2012
This weekend our display window hosted the Saturday Debut of Junko O’Neill. The Japanese-born artist invited visitors to take part in the process of her creation in painting the impression of their memorable space, which O’Neill will then use as a background of her own painting. Participants were intrigued to learn from O’Neill the Japanese conception of time and space, based in traditional philosophy as well as art, which she takes as her main theme. The atmosphere of the whole event unfolded in a pleasingly meditative way, and enabled us to reveal a bit more of O’Neill’s thoughts and inspirations.
We may have heard her talking about the gap, the “nothing” hidden in the continuum of events, which finally gives them the meaning. As the Japanese philosopher Lao Tse metaphorically explains:
Pots are formed from clay,
but the empty space between it
is the essence of the pot.
Similarly, in her paintings, O’Neill is trying to take a distance from the happenings around her, freeze the moment and create an empty space for the viewer to insert his own meaning.
But those, who have seen her works, do probably understand their message even without any explanation. We join the figures in the foreground of her paintings in their view of deep landscapes in the background. The middle-ground doesn’t seem to exist – or rather exists as the gap or the nothing, which, as the most important element of the image, opens the space for us to stand still and think of the meaning, which might be unique for each of us.
Following this path, O’Neill then takes her creation even further, leaving the figurative expression entirely behind, and concentrating on the “meaningful nothingness” itself, which leads her consequently into abstract painting.
Whether we think of her paintings as capturing a naïve view of a child marvelling about the infinite world, or as a melancholic meditation on all that we cannot reach, we could aptly express the background of her creation with help of an excerpt of one of her poems, called Plover:
I will remain
within your mind
where I want to be.