San Francisco

John O’Connor

Hollis Gallery

The Western figurative painters usually work on fairly large canvases; this member of the group feels more at home painting small pictures, though his paintings have the same concern for deep space. He differs from the other painters whom one associates with this mode also in his use of rich, luxurious color. Indeed, in other matters than color, his imitation of Diebenkorn, Oliveira, etc., is all too apparent.

Sometimes, when the gifted artist who has not yet developed his own metier borrows the devices of others and adopts the vogues of the moment, his merit is nonetheless apparent, or at least his promise. Only the good student is capable of fluency or really deft imitation.

Thus, one might well overlook the origins of a young artist’s manner and method, and notice his ability and dexterity instead. O’Connor’s bright, vital colors for example, may please some more than the opaque greys that Diebenkorn might have employed if he had been painting these pictures. A pianist has to settle for his own interpretation of the score; should we expect more from every painter? O’Connor is such a brilliant interpreter that he will probably discover very soon that he can paint without looking over someone’s shoulder.

––Knute Stiles