Mike O’Brien’s two-dimensional works are a unification of sculpture, painting, and photography. He creates abstract dioramas upon a 6 foot by 2 foot tall stage where compositions are built using paper and canvas pieces he has painted or drawn upon, then torn, warped, and crushed. These manipulated paper and canvas pieces are arranged into compelling scenes that are photographed and printed. The process of transforming two-dimensional space into three-dimensional space, and back again in the final printed image is a theme that O’Brien embraces. “I like the questions that arise from the finished print. What kind of space is this? Where is the background? I like the energy that the twisted paper and fabric imply. Some forms remind me of dancers at a honky tonk and at the same time take me back to my boyhood hunting turtles and snakes along the bayous of Texas and Louisiana.”
O’Brien began his mixed media work during his time studying fine arts at the University of Houston. Following his time at UH he relocated to Austin and became a sculptor for the Texas State Parks and Wildlife Department. Over the next 23 years he fabricated everything from life-sized plastic house flies to eleven foot high mammoths cast in bronze, crisscrossing the state learning its rich and varied natural and cultural histories. Following a devastating automobile accident in 2013, O’Brien returned to his interest in mixed media artwork, bringing to his studio practice the specialization and interest acquired during his time as a sculptor, specifically his time constructing dioramas. “When finished the dioramas become worlds unto themselves where time stops and all action is frozen. I realized that I felt the same way about these dioramas as I did about my abstract multimedia artwork.
Mayhem, Method and Medium runs from October 21st to December 31st, with an Artist’s Reception the evening of October 21st from 6-8pm. The artist will be in attendance. Flatbed Press, Austin. http://www.flatbedpress.com/