North Shore Artist Spotlight: Jack O'Sullivan
Recently awarded with the “Virtuoso Award” at The Arts of Life 2016 Awards Show, Jack (of-all-trades) O’Sullivan has proven time and time again that he is proficient in almost any medium. O’Sullivan’s style is easily identifiable and his process shows a sensitivity to materials. Jack’s process is slow and methodical, allowing Jack to learn about what he is using and build a relationship with it. Like a jazz musician, Jack alters his approach to suit the material environment he finds himself in.
At first glance, Jack’s choice of subjects appears arbitrary. However, after conversing with him it is apparent that he has a strong personal connection to the work he is making. “I think about what I want. What I think I like” is how he describes his process. Jack will search on the Internet or look through books, sifting through images of space, ancient Egypt, fantasy, history, science, mechanics, or old master’s works until he finds something he identifies with. He then gets to work.
When Jack is painting, he looks like he is on a journey. Pulling at whatever large or small things it is that he identifies with. Watching Jack paint is watching him methodically pull at this thread to see what unravels. It is difficult to tell if anything is found because of how Jack communicates and speaks about his paintings; but the journey appears rewarding because Jack is motivated to make more work.
Jack’s work is intrinsically motivated. Before he communicated with words, Jack began to make art. His work is still charged with this symbolism. Jack states that making “pictures help me think straight” giving his process a meditative quality. This centering through making is reminiscent of the work of Vija Celmins. Like Celmins’ work, Jack’s surface receives equal treatment. Every portion of the canvas or paper is brought to the same state of being. No section is worked more than others. Nothing is neglected.
Jack may be called a Virtuoso, someone who has never met a material they couldn’t handle, but at the core of his practice is a place to find peace. A painting is a place where Jack can center himself; a place to find “more calm” as he says. This central tenant of his making allows Jack to find meaning in the act of making instead of the outcome.