Niamh Ann Kelly

Art Critic

Majella O’Neill Collins has consistently drawn inspiration form her native West Cork. Over recent years her paintings have explored the textures of this environment and the rough mystique of its climate. Her paintings stand firmly on the sea front, in the face of wind and wave and play forcefully on the erotic charm of the might blue that is the sea.

As any work of art holds the trace of a time, a painting retains an image of the ideas and impulses that compelled its production. In form that image is various. For O’Neill Collins, the forms she paints relate directly to the land and sea that surround her. As the sea creates heights and crevices, while the rock formations at its coast protrude and retreat, her paintings rise and fall with borrowed energy. Her exploration of the textures of her physical environment and the impact of the sea on the land is transposed into an idiosyncratic language of painting. Veritably moving towards the syntax of abstraction,  the paintings of O’Neill Collins never quite lose sight of their origins in both the manifestation of her locale and the more generalised emotional ebb and flow of life’s turns.

Core to her expression is the language of paint itself. Gradations of tone, virtual modelling with pigment, traces of gesture are all central to her articulation. This concentration of focus on the application of paint results in surfaces as vigorous as the climate O’Neill Collins inhabits: the textures, colours and sweeps of paint generate a narrow of the sea’s movement. The resultant canvases are planes of painterly blues – moving between the very light and the very dark – that suggest the changeable nature of the sea and evoke the land it alternately strokes and assaults. As these paintings bring into view the variety of marine forms, colours and tempos and also present a deeply personal reflection, the sense of sea O’Neill collins exhibits is at once abstract and representational. The sea as a poetic force is long renowned for its properties of power, mystery and above all, its potential for immersion. Its invocation in art has often embraced the more passionate aspects of human wondering, as it does in O’ Neill Collins’ paintings from the blue.