My drawings and paintings idiosyncratically depict circumstances that associate Americans, i. e. dysfunction, style as empowerment, nature worship, anarchy, Hollywood. The community in my work finds a vehicle in fictional Delta City, where isolation gives greater opportunity for local superstars and homegrown fashion. It is a deprived, rural landscape where signs state DIRT FOR SALE. Delta City makes references to self-taught sensibilities and is a kind of hideaway for flamboyant, rebellious characters. Zealous, glamrock hippies possess unlikely talismans: souvenir clothing and jewelry, migraine auras, and candy-striped objects, including donuts and phones. Individuals’ personal style has a piled-on, shrine aesthetic. Natural adornments, such as pine cones and snails, keep local myths and superstitions alive. Supernatural characters speak star language. Nostalgic telephones suggest the communicative ability of art and a potential for mischief. Delta City is also a metaphor for the family unit with its resident anarchists and history of secrecy, symbolized by semi-disguised participants.
Newly isolated forms in recent work are herringbone patterns and wavering lines that refer to migraine auras. These vibrating shapes, that relate to the striped objects and lightning in my past work, linger near my characters’ faces like Art Deco jewelry.
Artist Bio / CV
Born 1957 in Starkville, Mississippi and raised in the Delta, Alex O'Neal graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the Eighties, his formal education overlapped regular visits with Mississippi self-taught artists, including Mary T. Smith and Luster Willis. O'Neal's drawings and paintings have been shown at The Drawing Center, New York; BRIC Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; P.S.122, New York; Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell, Ithaca, NY; Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta; Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS; Festival International d'Art Singulier, Aubagne, France; LACE; Lesley Heller Workspace, New York; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; Chicago Cultural Center; Ecomuseu, Valls d'Aneu, Spain; Amory Arts Center, West Palm Beach; Red Clay Biennial at Huntsville Museum of Art, AL; Rockefeller Art Center, SUNY Fredonia; ART LA; Laguna Gloria Museum, Austin, TX; and Linda Warren Projects, Chicago. His work is in volumes 16 and 38 of New American Paintings.
O'Neal been awarded fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts (2011, 2001), Camargo Foundation, France (2009), John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1999), Tennessee Arts Commission and Walter and Anne Knestrick Fund of Nashville (1998), and National Endowment for the Arts(1987-88). He has been a resident artist at Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France; Refugiet Klitgaarden, Skagen, Denmark; Millay Colony, Austerlitz, NY; Saltonstall Foundation, Ithaca, NY; Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL; Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA; Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Temecula, CA; Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and Fundacion Valparaiso and Centre d'Art i Natura, both in Spain.
The artist lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is represented by Linda Warren Projects, Chicago.