Profiles in Custody: Ruairiadh O’Connell at Josh Lilley

The new pieces at Josh Lilley are ambiguous in their aspects and their meanings. Ruairiadh O’Connell is responsible for three new series currently on display at the gallery.
Different shapes and materials were used by the artist to, as the press release announces, “Express an architecture of morality”.
In O’Connell’s world, this signifies drawing an invisible link between timeless elements, diverting from its original use and constructing his own vision. Both his virtues and perceptions are inscribed underneath a pile of rubber, plaster and foam, and most of the time appear light hearted and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Ruairiadh O’Connell at Josh Lilley (©OneartCitizen)
Ruairiadh O’Connell at Josh Lilley (©OneartCitizen)

The exhibition entitled Profiles in Custody, constitutes three artistic forms; rounded shapes’; elaborate rubber-painted wall works, ‘false canvases’; patterned plaster reliefs, and ‘footprints’; foam impression sculptures.
Although different from one another, these works share the same chevron pattern which have many implications. The first would be the sole of a shoe, or precisely addressed by O’Connell here, “…the sole of an Air Jordan”, which led to the arrest of Aaron Hernandez in the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013. The second references the triangular shapes which appeared in Church doorways, symbolizing the highs and lows of life, greeting the worshipper in complete surrender.
The starting point seems to always be tangible. The artist weaves the threads with which he guides his viewers to a reflection, where facts and dogmas entwine. If the artworks appear bright and clear, the winding path O’Connell borrows, appears at times unfathomable to explore fully.

Ruairiadh O’Connell at Josh Lilley (©OneartCitizen)
Ruairiadh O’Connell at Josh Lilley (©OneartCitizen)

Opening an indirect conversation with his viewers about relevant and current matters, O’Connell maps out his reflection with pieces which are elaborated with the intrusion of chance, so that some parts appear as if damaged uncontrolled accidents.
The unpredictability is physical but is also part of the thinking process. An identical procedure comes into play in the same foam impression box used by police forensics. The rubber remains humid as it “lives”, transformed through time, and can be affected by the temperature of the environment.
There is an underlying allusion to the passage of time, paced by the infinite numbers of chevrons, themselves referring to travel, and the unavoidable reality of life, thought of by O’Connell as a moving forward mechanism.

Profiles in Custody: Ruairiadh O’Connell at Josh Lilley (14 July – 22 September 2017)

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