chicago

Robyn O'Neil

Bodybuilder and Sportsman

In fifteen works on paper, Robyn O’Neil depicts a snowy, isolated, mountainous spot seemingly hospitable only to fir trees and robust bearded men. In this alpinelike setting, O’Neil finds a rich backdrop for life’s starker passages, a place curiously conducive to allegory and ritual, where the passions and fantasies of humankind are enacted against a frigid and impassive Mother Nature. Existence seems sharper in her highlands, which are peopled only by men, often alone, confronting some crossroads from which they may or may not emerge. Allegory of Virtue and Vice (all works 2004) makes direct reference to a 1505 painting of the same name by the Venetian master Lorenzo Lotto. But where Lotto’s work offers up a clear choice between industry and debauchery (it centers on a craggy trunk out of which sprouts a single new branch; on the ground at left an infant plays with what appear to be

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