“A few years ago, Charles Thomas O’Neil made orderly and restrained abstract paintings on metal that were filled with floating biomorphic forms and subtle references to landscape. His art-making process consisted of layering random marks that were sometimes completely obscured.
This exhibition focused on O’Neil’s work from last year, a body of dynamic paintings that show the artist’s progress. Spontaneous mark making, organic shapes, and an earth-tone palette remain O’Neil’s stock and trade, but his imagery has evolved. This recent work had a wildness and clarity previously absent – or that had perhaps been hidden beneath veils of paint. O’Neil also showed a willingness here to be more expressive and to reveal many of the darker aspects of his unconscious, and this seems to be a step in the right direction; while his earlier, prettier paintings kept viewers at bay, these aimed for the marrow.
In a series of 35 oil-on-copper works, each measure 10 by 10 inches, O’Neil paints everything from basic blocks of color to floral motifs to primitive shapes rendered in a childlike fashion, running the gamut from complete abstraction to a semblance of figuration. He plays with automatic writing, using thick, rough, angry swaths of color and powerful scratches that expose the underlying metal.
In this body of work, his shapes and his treatment of paint have become chaotic, and his vibrant and intuitively drawn forms interact closely with one another and seem to move beyond the borders of their square containers – a reflection perhaps of his recent move from expansive New Mexico to the dense, compact, forested landscape of New England.”
Dottie Indyke, Review, ARTnews,