Francis O'Donnell - Artist
“THE AGE OF MAN" by Francis O'Donnell.
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Artist Statement :
Art is my life, it informs my world and everything in it. I can not remember a time when I did not feel the urge to create. I am an alumni of the School of Visual Arts in NYC, where I obtained a BFA in Media Arts. While enrolled I served as an assistant to the world renowned sculptor Joel Perlman. I found New York to be fertile ground to learn and grow. After graduation I spent five months backpacking across Europe, seeking out the remnants of ancient culture and all the great museums. This experience set me on a path which I still travel, having visited a good portion of the planet.
Early in my career I had a great turning away from the "Organized Art World" This because of an hypocrisy which plagues a huge portion of the Art world, the 'Elite' gallery owners, agents and critics. Recently I have undergone a shift in my current thinking about art and therefore the approach to my work. I have come home to Abstract art, a style I have a real understanding of and I hope some talent for. However, during the past twenty years I have held “Abstract Art “ in some disdain. It is not that I disliked it, quite the opposite, I find it a very valid form. I have a great regard for this cutting edge, movement! However early on it became clear to me that 'Art for Arts Sake' had become a Religion, art produced with no real intellectual merit, meaning or thought behind it was acceptable, so long as one could talk about it. Psycho babble could justify the work so that 'Bullshit Artists' became regarded as 'Fine Artists'! People with no command of the basic color theory or how to employ perspective, light or line except to draw a stick figure and splash paint around became exalted.
Each one of the images on this page represent a series, an entire body of work which often includes many pieces. The eight photos here by no means represent all of the different stages in my artist development but are a good slice.
About the Artist:
Francis Daniel O'Donnell is an artist, author, poet, filmmaker, explorer. He has lectured on his experiences around the country, at various colleges, schools and Universities as well as organizations, clubs and libraries. Francis contributed on the restoration of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe house in Weston Connecticut. A veteran of the USMC, he has run several NYC Marathons. Mr. O'Donnell has traveled the world extensively, visiting over seventy countries. Often participating in or leading research expeditions and archaeological digs. He is a member of both the New York Explorers Club and The Adventurers Club of Chicago, and the Royal Geographical Society, London. His Emmy nominated PBS documentary, as well as the companion book, "In the Footsteps of Marco Polo" www.wliw.org/marcopolo chronicle his historic two year, twenty-five thousand mile journey, retracing the Venetian merchant's 13th century "Travels" along the fabled Silk Road. He is a regular contributor to "The Heretic" magazine, "Ripcord Adventure Journal" and the Scholarly blog "China Mongols and the Silk Road" among others including his piece in Smithsonian Magazine entitled "Marco Polo's Guide to Afghanistan". Most recently his work has been featured in "The Walkabout Chronicles" an anthology published by "Sacred World Publishing". This Spring Mr. O'Donnell will be instructing a course on 'Marco Polo and the Silk Road' for The Christopher Wren Association at prestigious College of William and Mary of Virginia
"Perian Muse" This piece has been sold
I am seen here with my sculpture entitled " Perian Muse " which is a large scale Abstract Construtivist piece. It was shown at the "Wards Island Show" 1984, and It received a wonderful review by the New Your Times. It is a post and lintel construction based on ancient ceremonial gateways found in Japan or the Triumphal arches of Rome. The material used in this case is wood but I often employ stone and steel!
"THE BUTCHER OF "MAZIR - I - SHARIF". 18 x 24 pencil on paper. Is for sale.
Is but one in a series of fifty drawings after Rembrandt van Rijn. I once read an opinion by the artist Edgar Degas, he said something to the effect "That before an artist is allowed create any original work they must be required to copy 1000 works by the old masters"! I thought this good advice, took it to heart and proceed to implement it. Here copied may not be the correct word, as I intended to put my own mark on each. There is something about their eyes that is surely not of Van Rijn and also they each have a very sculptural quality! During this period I also "Copied" many Michelangelo's, Leonardo Di Vinci and the works of many other great masters.
"THE GOD OF DEATH" 12 x 15 Marker and color pencil. This piece has been Sold.
My love of Meso - American art and culture is deep and abiding. I have traveled to Mexico, Central and South America numerous times over the last thirty years. During these journeys I have spent countless hours scourging museums, seeking out and visiting ruins deep in the jungles, high in the mountains or on the plateaus and sandy desert wastes. The art of the Inca, Aztec and Maya and there many cousins speak to me and inspire me to added color, give voice to works that the eons of time have often drained away. So this is what I do, I interpret, and bring my own scene of color to their mystical creations. Most often I do so in paint but of the many works I have done, some have been drawings executed with magic markers and color pencils
"ROTATION" 12 x 18 x 4 This piece is Sold.
Rotation is a mixed material small scale abstract sculpture. One of many which I have produced over the years, it is a fine example my desire to imbue heavy static materials with movement and kinetic energy. It too shows how a smaller pieces while not necessarily models for larger works can take on monumental qualities.
Color pencil and marker on illustration board 12 x 18 inches. Is for sale.
This piece is not so much part of a series but a body of work, drawings and illustrations done on many themes and subjects. Here the "Forgotten Forefather" is a Western Plains "Indian" Chief. However I am planning a large series of painting done in an expressionistic manner, based on Our Native American "Forgotten Forefathers" famous historical personages, such as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Chief Joseph etc ...
"NAVAHO SUN " - Mixed Media on Canvas - 36 x 48. Is for sale.
This "Ceremonial Blanket" is a Homage to Native American Designs found in both pottery & Weaving - The symbolism is not a direct copy but my own interpretation on works that I've seen in the past ! Also this work is a Axis Mundi / Center of the Universe, based on the Cardinal directions. The central Rope circle, obviously represents the center of the Universe - The central line between East & West also divides Heavens - The Sky & Earth - So to that end - In what would be the far North West we have the a."Rays of the Sun" ... Then in the North West b."Clouds in the Sky" ... In the North East c."A Sunset " & in the far North East d. "Heat Waves" ... Below we find - In the far South West e. " Mountains " ... The in the South West f. "Water " .... Then in the South East g. "Fish" ... Lastly in the Far South East h. "Landscape"
“THE AGE OF MAN" Is a Large scale, oil on canvas. 3 ½ ft by 5 ½ ft
This Work is still available and is for Sale.
"The Age of man" Is a portrait of man as he moves through life. First as an young man, exuberant in full power, looking up and forward to the future. Later having learned life's lessons he becomes the "Old Sage" the wise old grandfather who now imparts his hard won knowledge to those smart enough to listen. Lastly, he accepts and even welcomes the inevitable and unavoidable specter that haunt us all, death.
This Self portrait is an allegory, it represents “The Cycle of Life“ inspired by both Eastern and Western Religious Iconography. I'm shown first (from left to right) in early Manhood synonymous with youthful vigor, optimism and power. Then in Old age full of knowledge and Wisdom to share, enlightened to the wonders of the universe, and resigned to the inevitable reality … Death … and rebirth on the wheel of dharma! This is the very moment of attaining Atman and becoming - the Absolute – GODHEAD – the phenomenal universal Spirit, which is the ground of all Divine beings – personal and impersonal, the ultimate essence. The original self, which can not be seen or heard. Now vibrating at such a high frequency of energy the transcendent is Illuminated in a rainbow spectrum of pure light ! Depicted here as a TRIMURITI (from the Sanskrit “Three Forms“) it is a Hindu concept in which the functions of the Universe are personified by Three Gods, Brahma the creator (central figure) Vishnu the preserver (figure on left) and Shiva the Destroyer or transformer (figure at right). “The Great Trinity“ often called “Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara, from which all other Hindu incarnations originate! Often depicted as a god with three heads on one neck, each looking in a different direction . Similar to but different than the Christian Trinity, God as three divine, distinct persons – Father Son and Holy Spirit, Coexist in Unity and are co-equal, co-eternal – omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely Wise. Holy and Loving - The Mystery of the Christian Faith.”
'GUERNICA REDUX' - "THE HOLOCAUST OF THE INNOCENTS"
This Mural size canvas - 6 ft x 13 ft. Is for Sale.
It was Shown at the 'ARTPRIZE' show in Grand Rapids Michigan - 2012 This Painting is inspired in part by Picasso's famous antiwar painting and declaration, 'Guernica'. A small town in Spain that was bombed by the Nazi Luftwaffe prior to World War Two, killing many innocent civilians. “Guernica Redux - The Holocaust of the Innocents” is a Homage to but in no way a copy of this work. It is rather a re-visitation to a critically important theme, Man's inhumanity to man, War and Genocide. What could be more important today after years involved in two fruitless wars and the drums beating for more in Iran, North,Korea, Syria and other places around the world? Let us all take a breath and see if can find another way. As idealistic as it sounds, Tolerance , Compassion, Peace and Love is the only way forward ! My piece is predominately concerned with the Nazi Holocaust and the attempted annihilation of the Jewish People. Our continued inability as a species to learn from the Horrors of the past we have continued to repeat our genocidal actions in places around the globe like Cambodia, Kosavo Rwanda, and most recently Dar fur. My painting is a precautionary, Apocalyptic Vision of one of our possible fate's, if we don't expunge this impulse from our base animal nature. Hatred, racism, greed, the lust for power, based on nationalism, religious, economic or ethnic lines often lead the misunderstanding, War and perhaps even the unthinkable ! Einstein said something to the effect that he wasn't sure what WW III would look like but that WW IIII would be fought with stick and stones ! I have painted this Monumental work in a 1930's , 40's propaganda style, using a limited color palette of just Red, Black and White which lends it a very graphic and bold style, that I feel compliments the elemental design and also the overwhelmingly dramatic and disturbing imagery portrayed! It is also a blessing to see the power I have as an Artist to affect people. 'Guernica Redux' has had crowds of people stop in their tracks and contemplate this deeply troubling issue. This painting has already proven itself to be is a thought provoking work that fosters debate, conversation and inward reflection ! It requires the viewer to question, think, and hopefully understand. It's a tough painting. It is not something you want to hang over your living room couch ! My Antiwar, hatred and Violence Painting based on the Holocaust is an important piece of work, and I believe it will be recognized as such in the future, not just for it's social content but also it's Artist merit.
You can contact the artist at Art Works, Inc. in Richmond, Virginia from noon - 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (804) 291.1400.
All images are the property of the artists and may not be duplicated without permission. Contact Art Works, Inc. 804 291.1400 in Richmond, Virginia U.S.A. for more information or if you wish to seek permission for use of images