Patrick O'Donnell

I have been largely working on tondos for the last couple of years. The circle offered me a neutrally balanced compositional arena with multiple orientation options allowing me to focus my enquiry into the perception of space – the boundaries and opacities of colour, line and edge with the subsequent effects when they meet or merge in space, without the weight of any physical corner of the picture support dictating a portrait or landscape format. 

I can use straight and or torn edges of tape to construct my compositions. I started experimenting with the tension between the torn and clean line in charcoal works back in 2016. A key work from this period was Seven Sisters – consisting of seven essentially abstract shapes that echoed rather than depicted the iconic landscape features of the Sussex Coast. They were exhibited in the 2017 Sussex Open at Towner Gallery Eastbourne.

Working this way offers me the freedom to explore a variety of ideas through simple formal elements.  The Toe the line series were initially prompted by observations of boundaries and territories within domestic settings, to then later include ideas filtered from Tim Marshall’s book- Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall of natural / geographical vs political borders, imposed and accepted (or not), with palette of the work entitled American Sublime a reference to the colours often found in the American romantic paintings of the late 19th Century. Dawn Chorus (and Elegy) comes from a collection of works that employ these similar concerns with the shapes dissecting the circle like musical notes infused with the experience of precious birdsong encountered on walks in urban parkland areas over the lockdown last year. The edges of the work are painted to form a continuous loop of shifting colour transitions between the notes fulfilling my interest in blurring the lines between two and three dimensions and thus becoming a painted object.