For the American artist Grace O’Connor, seemingly unremarkable, arbitrary scenes have the ability to reawaken fleeting yet significant memories. Her muted oil paintings draw out the past by articulating the fractured images that make up a moment seen in hindsight. This effect is particularly evident in the oil paintings on display in “One Day in June,” a solo exhibition of her work at Paul Stolper Gallery in London.
In these paintings, the London-based artist conjures rich, if at times nebulous, impressions from a day spent in the company of a musician she had admired and respected for many years. The musician’s identity is not disclosed—a mystery that adds to the images’ intrigue. That anonymity, coupled with O’Connor’s loose brushwork and quiet palette, lends a soft-focus sensibility to her tender memories.
O’Connor transforms mundane impressions of the everyday into views that are vaguely voyeuristic. In Disrupted stripe (2015), for example, a man perches on the side of a bed, caught in the act of pulling a sock over his foot. Glimmer (2015) presents an even more ambiguous vignette by hinting at a dramatic encounter between two figures under an overpass.
Although derived from a bond between two deeply connected individuals, the paintings emanate a certain wistfulness as filtered through the haze of nostalgia. Each painting is paired with enigmatic lyrics excerpted from songs written by the unnamed musician, which further splinter the meanings of these already fractured moments. Taken together, the paintings are like a visceral series of film stills, cross sections of a significant yet selectively recalled day.
“Grace O’Connor: One Day in June” is on view at Paul Stolper Gallery, London, Mar. 24–Apr. 23, 2016.