London-based O’Connell’s work investigates the psychological functions of design in all its manifestations, from abstract patterns through domestic interiors to landscape architecture.
In the past he has explored casino carpets and aeroplane seat fabric, designed to keep gamblers excited or distract from a fear of flying. For Frieze he will be presenting works inspired by the uniforms and flags of Japanese Hikeshi firemen from the Edo period.
The artist’s ‘wax paintings’ consist of cropped patterns that have been silkscreened onto industrial wax. The wax itself has been infused with oil pigments and poured into steel frames; as it hardens he “massages” the surface, a gesture that creates valleys that the patterns fall into.
His ‘railing sculptures’ appear to be traditional metal fences that have been invaded by a mysteriously textured substance. Between each custom-welded vertical bar is a mesh that supports jesmonite, a water-based resin that is moulded and coloured by contact with lace privacy curtains.
His playfulness with medium and form contrasts the research and investigations inherent in his practice. Works are both painterly and sculptural, made seductive through texture and colour, and we are excited to see what he does next.