Evie O’Connor’s paintings examine, critique and ponder the confusing climate we find ourselves in. Her work asks personal and uncomfortable questions about the breeding ground of excess, that we all play a part in creating. It invites conversation surrounding class, which for her is necessary and long overdue, and dissects the often empty aspiration of the scenes she envisions. Performative affluence and sun-kissed elitism become galleries in themselves, creating vignettes of beautiful privilege that are both repulsive and idyllic in our world of pain, poverty and pandemics.
Using her own archive, review sites and the infinite images of social media to construct new scenes of escapism, her work plays with both our conscious and submerged desires to live in an Eden of beauty and satiated-desires. The seduction of wealth’s talismans all pad out our fantasy of a palm-filled Western mirage. The pool, a common symbol in her paintings, represents the small few who can afford to float freely in this atmosphere; seemingly without effort. Ostentatious supercars litter the Riviera, audibly demanding the attention of crowds before they even meet your eyes. Cocktail parties at exclusive hotels feature swarms of stars social climbers, artists and plus ones. A hive of the world’s bourgeois and the people who wish to belong to it. Property portfolios heaving with 8 figure estates decorate the surface of a vase. The scenes appear charming and harmless, but fundamentally represent greed and gross- inequality. They capture scenes and moments of the past, and lifestyles that may never be coming back.
This world of glimmering class showmanship has evidently uncovered a frightening issue of detachment, observing the parade of celebrity videos emerging in 2020. This culture of viral clips in the wake of global deaths and human rights protests was uncomfortable and bizarre. We became united in our bafflement at the depths of disconnection in front of us. However, this backlash still managed to get lost in the void of more non-information - the guilty parties retreating back to their sun loungers to wait out the storm. It begs the question, will those who live in cocoons of wealth ultimately become impermeable to reality, and if so, do we envy them for it?
Evie O Connor (b. 1993, Derbyshire, UK) is an artist living and working in London. She received a MA from Glasgow School of Art and a BA from London College of Fashion. Her work has been the subject of exhibitions in Shanghai, LA, London and Manchester, with an upcoming solo at Taymour Grahne Projects, London, in the spring. She is currently completing a residency at Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, and was previously artist in residence at Dumfries House.