Michael O'Reilly


Studio Practice


O’Reilly’s hallucinatory landscapes playfully investigate the psychological impact of hot, dark and remote climates and are reminiscent of literature from authors such as H. G Wells and William Golding. The maelstrom of movement created within each canvas twists familiar narratives into swirling, biting, chomping moments that continually stagger between struggle and grace.


Whilst working in the studio O'Reilly teeters between using heavy-handed marks and a lighter touch, since both play a key role in his practice. To explain their importance, he often draws parallels between the experience of making a painting with Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The old man and the sea’; for O'Reilly, both are about a rugged struggle and a fantastic chase for some kind of elegant catch, whether that’s a giant marlin or a beautiful painting.


However, once the eye adjusts to these colourful places, a more sinister side emerges. Something is not quite right. There is a bitterness in his painted landscapes that allows healthy fun to tip perilously close to hysteria. Amidst fun flecks of pattern and waves of exaggerated brushwork, the images are staid; it is as though some key element of life has departed and left them to fall into disarray.

Link below for exhibition review by Benjamin Bridges: