Brendan O'Connell (American b.1968)
American life has always offered fertile territory to the American Realist painters; since the time of Winslow Homer, Robert Henri, John Sloan, and Edward Hopper, a group of contemporary, socially conscious painters have portrayed Americans being American with uncompromising realism, and absolute simplicity. In 2005, the contemporary artist Brendan O’Connell continues this tradition by using the color splashes of the Post-Impressionists to portray contemporary American life as he finds it. O’Connell brought his model to the patterned aisles of Wal-Mart, the contemporary marketplace, and has created a striking, and innovative series of paintings depicting an all American girl engaged in the American pastime of shopping, in the iconic American marketplace, Wal-Mart.
Since the Middle Ages in Europe, peoples gathered in the marketplace to socialize. In our modern society, while the internet revolution has connected the individual with the world, it has also isolated the individual, secluding the population in front of computer screens. Wal-Mart has become the Global Marketplace. More people congregate at Wal-Mart than any other place on earth: one million people go to work every day at Wal-Mart and millions more go there every day to shop, search, meet, and find the bounty of the good life that America, and Wal-Mart, promises.
The European art patron, Klaus Agathe, former CEO of Aissa Brown-Boveri, has said about O’Connell’s series, “ For me, the Wal-Mart paintings are so American, because for us, WAL–MART is America. Mr. Agathe collects American contemporary art, and has recently purchased a painting from the Wal-Mart Series.
O’Connell plans to continue creating images as he finds inspiration in the aisles of the new American marketplace.