Bill O'Donnell

O'Donnell

Many Rooms

These pictures are shot in a rusting tin dollhouse. This home functions as a metaphor for an afterlife, the dwelling place of human ideals. The scenes are inspired by three themes of the Western philosophical tradition: Knowledge, Conduct and Governance. The work treats these essential questions: What is the nature of reality? How does one live a virtuous life? How is one related to one's society? While inspired by the formal, particular structure of Western philosophical inquiry, these are undeniably haunting uncertainties that have been pondered throughout human history.

The cyclical acquisition, loss and regaining of a culture's knowledge can be seen in events ranging from the maturation and death of a wise individual to the building and destruction of a great library. In my pictures, piles of dust, ash and books suggest the frailty of both the human body and any ephemeral treasury of insights. The indispensable utility of wisdom is represented in Greek mythology as a golden thread; the one that leads Theseus safely back from the depths of the Minotaur's labyrinth is repeated as Plato's golden cord, a path of Reason that guides us safely through the maze of appetite and emotion. A golden cord weaves its way throughout the dollhouse in this work.

The ideal world of geometric forms has been used for centuries to suggest the existence of immutable truths. Apparently transcendent geometric forms appear in a number of these pictures.

The tension between individual liberty and societal responsibility is often viewed as a threshold to be honored or crossed. In many images, I use windows and doors, the liminal membranes between public and private domains, to address questions of tension between society and the individual.

SOLID AND SPACE

When I was a kid riding in the back seat of the family car, I’d watch the side of the road and by closing one eye, would align the bottom of the window with the rush of horizontals speeding past.

Fence tops, walls and guard rails formed an oscillating horizontal line that danced with the unchanging bottom of the window frame. For me, this was close enough to the infinity of LINE described in my geometry schoolbooks.

Once introduced to the iconic shapes and solids in those books, I saw them everywhere, mental templates to be superimposed on any scene. The overlay of geometric ideals transformed a baseball into the perfect sphere, a building block into the flawless cube.

The SOLID AND SPACE pictures celebrate this play between intellectual and perceptual knowledge, the flickering between memory and observation, the blend of mystery and delight when truth and truth disagree.

All images from the Many Rooms series are available as 14 x 21"  pigment prints made in an edition of 15 for $1800 matted.
 
All images from the SOLID AND SPACE series are available as 14”x 21” pigment prints made in an edition of 10 for $1800.


 

Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

Bill O'donnell
Books, 2007
Bill O'Donnell
Box, 2017
Bill O'donnell
Clown Cord, 2009
Bill O'donnell
Cube, 2009
Bill O'Donnell
Cube, 2017
Bill O'Donnell
Desk, 2013
Bill O'donnell
DInner, 2007
Bill O'Donnell
Dresser, 2015
Bill O'donnell
Escape, 2008
Bill O'donnell
Labyrinth, 2007
Bill O'Donnell
Parabola, 2017
Bill O'donnell
Snapshot Stone, 2009
Bill O'donnell
Sphere, 2009
Bill O'Donnell
Stairs, 2015
Bill O'donnell
Triangle Shadow, 2008