Sunday, November 23, 2014

Helen O'Toole, Stumble

Helen O'Toole, Stumble, 2013
55" x 90"

Helen O'Toole is a contemporary Irish artist based in Washington.  She moved to Chicago in 1987 to pursue an MFA the School of the Art Institute and now is a professor at the University of Washington.  O'Toole cites her childhood in Ireland, its landscape and mythology, as a major influence on her painting.  O'Toole's work bears some resemblance to color field painting, but she uses a wide palette to express the depth and breadth of feeling that she wants to communicate. Her works also often resemble abstracted landscapes, viewed, in O'Toole's own words, "through misty areas of obscured forms, and veils of evocative color."  In Stumble these forms seem to exist like cloud formations, rolling across the expanse of the canvas, somewhat insubstantial yet extremely potent.  This is a fairly large painting and it imagine the power this piece would have in person.  The richness of O'Toole's colors and the power of her misty shapes suggest the intensity of memory and the fog of history that O'Toole sees as a central theme of Irish culture.

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