solo exhibition

Playing With Fire Now Showing at Galerie Uhn

My exhibition at Galerie Uhn in Königstein, near Frankfurt, Germany opened with an enthusiastic gathering, highlighted by a classical music trio, reunions with dear friends, and a great response to my new work.

I also gave an artist talk on September 2nd, when I had an opportunity to discuss this work in public for the first time, using a Q&A format led by gallery owner Jimin Leyrer.

A very big thank you to Jimin and her family for lots of generous support and hard work to make this a great show, and to Ann-Katrin Sura for hosting a delightful gathering after the Vernissage.

There's also a brief article about the exhibition here (open the link with Chrome and it can translate for you).

The exhibition runs until 28 September.

Exhibition: Playing With Fire at Galerie Uhn

Galerie Uhn's brochure for my upcoming solo exhibition just went out, a copy below. The work is all finished and framed, ready for the long drive to Germany in a couple of weeks. I'm renting a long-ish van for trek, as some of the work that I'm bringing for this show and our CKCK group exhibition is too large for my SUV. Shipping so much work is cost-prohibitive. Eurotunnel, here I come - oh, the glamorous life of an artist!

New Country at ArtTeaZen in Langport

It's with great pleasure that I announce my second annual solo exhibition with lovely ArtTeaZen, a thriving supporter of local arts that also happens to be a fantastic café. This year I'm showing work from my New Country series of overpainted farm animal photographs - both originals and framed fine art prints.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  She Looks Familiar, But I Don't Recall Her Name . Acrylic on C-print on canvas, 24 x 36 inches. ©2015.

Kelly M. O'Brien, She Looks Familiar, But I Don't Recall Her Name. Acrylic on C-print on canvas, 24 x 36 inches. ©2015.

If you're in the area, stop in for a cuppa, say hello to proprietors Andy and Clare, and get yourself a piece of affordable framed art, or splurge on an original - there are only a few from this series left.

New Country | ArtTeaZen, Langport, UK | June 1 - July 31

Material Lessons

This week I was reminded that when you fight with your materials, nobody wins. What's happening in the studio is often an object lesson for currents running deeper below. Some days you find yourself in the zone, things easily falling into place. Others - like this week - the more I fussed with trying to get something to work, the less cooperative the work became.

Over time, I've learned that if I'm not mindful, I use my work to stave off or avoid feeling things I'd rather not address - fear, pain, anxiety. After losing my father in March, I've kept an eye on this with varying degrees of success. Yet in the form of this particular piece, I found my self overworking, overdoing, protesting and insisting I could make it so if I only kept trying to save it.

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress (or not). ©2017

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress (or not). ©2017

After several days of this silliness, I talked with my mentor, Lisa Kokin, who gently and firmly instructed me to set the piece aside, put it away for at least a month, and revisit it with fresh eyes. Of course this is the wise thing to do - and even then, it may never be something I can fix. Maybe it will become something I'll have to let go.

Even the work that did end up being resolved this week felt like a struggle. A new piece in the Edgy series, this one has a darker, tighter feel to it, and didn't unfold as easily as the previous three pieces in this series of nine.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 50 (Edgy No. 4) . Paper, spray paint, wire. 14 x 14 x 3 inches framed. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 50 (Edgy No. 4). Paper, spray paint, wire. 14 x 14 x 3 inches framed. ©2017.

I do like it quite a bit. There's something about it that allows a range of elements to co-exist, if not comfortably, then tolerantly: light, dark, irregular, interesting, unruly, contained, with a splash of color.

All of these pieces and more (except, perhaps, the problem child described above) will be available for purchase via Galerie Uhn in September:

Playing With Fire | Galerie Uhn | 25 August – September 28, 2017 | Vernissage: Friday, 25 August, 19:00

New Work: Edgy

In recent months, my Playing With Fire commissions have evolved from dimensional pieces constrained by a mat and frame, to floating sculptural objects, unconstrained by form.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 47 (Edgy 1) . Paper, book thread, flame. 14 x 14 x 2 7/8 inches framed. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 47 (Edgy 1). Paper, book thread, flame. 14 x 14 x 2 7/8 inches framed. ©2017.

My new obsession has become the edges of these burned stacks of paper. While I give love and attention to every detail of a commission, I've been dreaming of how to celebrate their edges.

Burning down the house. Work in progress. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2017.

Burning down the house. Work in progress. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2017.

Enter Edgy, a series of small burned paper objects that flip the stacks on their sides and make each object all about this tiny but gorgeous feature. I've only just begun this series and am eager to see where it takes me.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 49 (Edgy 3) . Paper, flame. 14 x 14 x 2 7/8 inches framed. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 49 (Edgy 3). Paper, flame. 14 x 14 x 2 7/8 inches framed. ©2017.

Edgy will eventually show up as a grid of nine framed pieces – and probably a few special ones left unframed – in my solo exhibition with Galerie Uhn in September, details below.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 48 (Edgy 2) . Paper, flame. 14 x 14 x 2 7/8 inches framed. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 48 (Edgy 2). Paper, flame. 14 x 14 x 2 7/8 inches framed. ©2017.

Playing With Fire | Galerie Uhn | 25 August – September 28, 2017 | Vernissage: Friday, 25 August, 19:00

New Work: Phases

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire, No. 42 (Green) . Paper, flame, spray paint. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire, No. 42 (Green). Paper, flame, spray paint. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

This coming September I'll be debuting my Playing With Fire series in Germany with a solo exhibition at Galerie Uhn in Königstein-im-Taunus. Plans are coming along nicely for a body of work that both showcases work similar to the PWF commissions that I've been doing steadily for the past 18 months, as well as pieces that take the work in some new directions.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire, No. 36 (Pink) . Paper, flame, spray paint. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire, No. 36 (Pink). Paper, flame, spray paint. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

One such direction is Phases, a small series of six pieces that attempt to categorize and put order to an otherwise uncontrollable, ephemeral combination: paper and fire. Oh, the metaphors! The fact that these works emerged during a particularly stressful time in my personal life is no surprise.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire, No. 43 (Orange) . Paper, flame, spray paint. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire, No. 43 (Orange). Paper, flame, spray paint. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

Deep meaning aside, I'm particularly pleased with the experiments using subtle color. Viewed straight-on, the color is a faint glow of pink, orange or green. From an angle, the color becomes more noticable, a reward for looking at things differently.

Playing With Fire | Galerie Uhn | 25 August – September 28, 2017 | Vernissage: Friday, 25 August, 19:00

All images are by Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre, Bath