New York

Robyn O'Neil


The landscapes in Robyn O’Neil’s multi-paneled and intricate drawings are vast, barren, and populated by middle-age men in dark sweatsuits who appear very small against their immense and intimidating backdrops. Not much grows in them apart from a few feathery bushes and twisted trees, beyond which ominous mountains rise up out of nothing. One sky is blank, oppressive in its absolute featurelessness; others portend stormy weather. A puff of smoke on the horizon could be a mushroom cloud.

In this inhospitable environment, O’Neil’s army of anonymous figures act out a contemporary Divine Comedy that is surprisingly rich in mordant humor, largely because what’s mapped out here, in animated overstatement, are not so much sins as varieties of unacceptable behavior, in particular the antisocial and anticivic transgressions of passivity and disengagement. In These moving bodies, these numb processions

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