painting by Patrick Neal
oil on canvas 20"x30", 2020
I completed the painting Red Onions in May early on during the pandemic. At the time, I was on a roll working with nets, textures and mesh that covered the frontal plane of my canvases. These fields of texture took up as much space as the central subject matter of a vase, flowers or plant, and because of their abstraction, allowed for imaginative forays into art history, the universe or distant memories.
I found this netted onion bag while on a walk through industrial Long Island City, Queens and was immediately enamored by its purple plastic sheen and large, see-through appearance. In order to get out of the house and get some exercise I had taken to walking in this desolate area of my neighborhood populated with a lot of businesses, food trucks, kiosks, dumpsters and feral cats. This area of town was sparsely populated and away from the more attractive Gantry Park where many people congregated. It was a great place to social distance and go on long walks.
The still life setup for Red Onions was situated on top of a light box and hit from the side with additional lights, thus bringing out the translucent and pearlescent qualities of the synthetic strands and onion skins. I found, I didn’t need much by way of props to get excited about the interplay of shapes, colors, light and composition inherent to a few sensual materials. It was the combination of planning, collecting and envisioning a composition beforehand, juxtaposed with the discovery of something new and exciting at that last minute that brought the painting to life.
Patrick Neal is a painter, art writer and independent curator. He recently had a one person show at The Oresman Gallery, Brown Fine Arts Center, Smith College, Northampton, MA and is a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Painting. www.patrickneal-art.com