Pat O’Neill at Monitor Gallery in Rome
Monitor has reopened the gallery season with a debut for renowned artist and filmmaker Pat O’ Neill (Los Angeles, 1939).Widely regarded as one of the pioneers and iconic figures of experimental American film, since the early 1960s Pat O’Neill’s research has embraced a broad spectrum of media, from sculpture to collage, drawing and photography.
His works are currently featured in a number of prominent public collections such as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
In 1974 O’Neill founded the Lookout Mountain film production company devoted primarily to special effects. Over several decades of career a filmmaker he has perfected editing, composition and optic printing techniques that stand as turning points in film history.
Although his films sit uncomfortably within any predefined category, several of O’Neill’s productions completed between 1963 and 2006 are ranked by critics as classics, pioneering special effects that came to be commonly used in the modern film industry much later on. These include Runs Good (1970), Down Wind (1973), Saugus Series (1974), Let’s Make a Sandwich (1978), Water and Power (1989), Trouble in the Image (1996) and The Decay of Fiction (2002).
O’Neill’s video work is known as much for its unique technical craftsmanship as for its innovation, together with a distinctive visual and visionary elegance. A constant stream of images combines echoes of present and past, everyday culture and the Los Angeles landscape feature strongly – particularly its suburban and rural areas – for an overall effect that is utterly bewitching.
Through his use of inversion, superimposed footage and layering with figures in movement over several backgrounds and seemingly arbitrary fragments of narrative text, O’Neill pushes the limits and contradictions of technology in image communication to the extreme.
O’Neill’s first experiments with the sculpture medium also date from the early 1960s, with surreal assemblages of wood and metal inspired by erotic shapes. He later introduced glass fibre and Plexiglas to these extravagantly allusive forms – horns or undulating outlines wrapped in fur. Egg on Floor (1966) and Black and White (1964) illustrate well the importance O’Neill attaches to his research into form and materials. This is apparent also in the rare body of works that will be presented at the gallery which, although motionless, emanate the same density of content and energy as his films. The gallery will in fact be presenting the sculptures alongside O’Neill’s videos, creating a suspended – almost trance-like – atmosphere that is the hallmark of this great American artist.
Monitor – Palazzo Sforza Cesarini via Sforza Cesarini 43a 00186 Roma
14 September – 22 October 2016