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Mary Lovelace O'Neal: Chasing Down the Image

Curated by Sukanya Rajaratnam

Mary Lovelace O’Neal: Chasing Down the Image was a thrilling celebration of the artist’s career and her first exhibition in New York in over twenty-five years. Mnuchin Gallery is now able to deliver this show digitally, allowing viewers to relive their experience at the gallery, but also to allow viewers from across the world to see the work in a more comprehensive and fulfilling manner. The exhibition functions as a retrospective for the artist, covering fifty years and including pieces from key bodies of work that have formed her oeuvre from the late sixties through the present day. It also continues the gallery’s mission to bring to the fore artists who have been marginalized from the mainstream of art historical discussions.

Featured in the exhibition are works from Lovelace O’Neal’s important Lampblack series of the late sixties and early seventies. Begun during her student days in New York at the heyday of Minimalism, this series is in direct dialogue with that movement as she explores notions of flatness and challenges preconceived beliefs of who lays claim to abstraction, a means of expression at the time deemed inadequate to relay the experience of black artists. Mary Lovelace O’Neal: Chasing Down the Image additionally showcases critical pieces from her subsequent bodies of work, where she turns more fully to the gestural approaches of abstract expressionism while retaining the immense scale and mixed-media approach emblematic of her practice. These include the Whales Fucking series, inspired by her own experiences whale watching as well as D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Whales Weep Not!”; the Panther’s in My Father’s Palace series, where flurries of abstracted animals act as symbols of her childhood surrounded by music and her long history as an activist in the civil rights movement; and the Lost in the Medina and Two Deserts, Three Winters series, both of which tell the stories of her travels around the world and emphasize her impeccable use of color. As diverse as their starting points may be, to view them all as a group highlights the power of Lovelace O’Neal’s practice, and reflects the multifaceted nature of an artist who continues pushing the possibilities of abstraction to new heights.

 

 

Video

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Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
The Four Cardinal Points Are Three: North and South
circa
 1970s
lampblack pigment, masking tape, and pastel onunstrectched canvas
85 1/4 x 144 1/2 inches (216.5 x 367 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Steam Engine
circa
 1970s
mixed media on unstretched canvas
83 x 139 1/2 inches (210.8 x 354.3 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal , Blacker Than A Hundred Midnights Down in a Cypress Swamp

Mary Lovelace O'Neal 

Blacker Than A Hundred Midnights Down in a Cypress Swamp

circa 1970s

lampblack pigment on unstretched canvas

83 3/4 x 151 inches (212.7 x 383.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Black Ember

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

Black Ember

circa 1970s

mixed media on unstretched canvas

72 1/4 x 145 inches (183.5 x 368.3 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O'Neal , Meaningless Ritual, Senseless Superstition

Mary Lovelace O'Neal 

Meaningless Ritual, Senseless Superstition

circa early 1980s

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Thelonius Searching Those Familiar Keys (from the Whales Fucking series)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Thelonius Searching Those Familiar Keys (from the Whales Fucking series)

circa 1980s

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, White Whale (from the Whales Fucking series)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

White Whale (from the Whales Fucking series)

circa 1980s

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Toni’s Rose Petals (from the Whales Fucking series)
1981
mixed media on canvas
81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Hammem
circa
 1984
mixed media on canvas
81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Following the Bedouins (from the Panthers In My Father's Palace series)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

Following the Bedouins (from the Panthers In My Father's Palace series)

1989

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Running with My Black Panthers and White Doves a.k.a.
Running with my Daemons (from the Panthers In My Father’s Palace series)
circa
 1989-1990
mixed media on canvas
81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Running with Black Panthers and White Doves (from the Panthers in my Father's Palace series)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

Running with Black Panthers and White Doves (from the Panthers in my Father's Palace series)

circa 1989-1990

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Kurban, A Sweeter Day to Come (from the Panthers in My Father’s Palace series)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Kurban, A Sweeter Day to Come (from the Panthers in My Father’s Palace series)

circa 1989-1990

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Try a Little Tenderness
circa 
early 1990s
mixed media on canvas
84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, White Self Portrait (from the Two Deserts, Three Winters series)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

White Self Portrait (from the Two Deserts, Three Winters series)

circa early 1990s

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Pink Self Portrait (from the Two Deserts, Three Winters series)
circa
 early-mid 1990s
mixed media on canvas
81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Purple Rain (from the Two Deserts, Three Winters series) 

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

Purple Rain (from the Two Deserts, Three Winters series) 

circa 1990s

mixed media on canvas

81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Forbidden Fruit (from the Lost in the Medina series)
circa
 1990s
mixed media on canvas
81 x 138 inches (205.7 x 350.5 cm)

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, There Are No Such Thing As Witches (But They Do Exist) No. 2

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

There Are No Such Thing As Witches (But They Do Exist) No. 2

circa mid-late 1990s

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Sunrise

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Sunrise

circa late 1990s

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Long Ago and Far Away, Age Upon Age, My Tillie

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Long Ago and Far Away, Age Upon Age, My Tillie

circa late 1990s

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Set Them Wings on That Table a.k.a. Dem Bones

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Set Them Wings on That Table a.k.a. Dem Bones

circa 1998

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O'Neal , Grave Robbers 4

Mary Lovelace O'Neal 

Grave Robbers 4

circa 1998

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm) 

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, If He Whispers to Me, I'll Know He's the One

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

If He Whispers to Me, I'll Know He's the One

circa 1999-2000

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Mary Lovelace O’Neal
She is Living in the Clouds
circa
 early 2000s
mixed media on canvas
84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm)

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Nemesio’s Black Showers

Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Nemesio’s Black Showers

circa early 2000s

mixed media on canvas

84 x 60 inches (213.4 x 152.4 cm)

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