The artist’s first solo exhibition in Berlin surveys five decades of O'Neill's multifaceted career and includes several groundbreaking films, a selection of early and recent sculptures, as well as collages and drawings.
Long recognized as a pioneer in avant-garde film, Pat O’Neill, entered UCLA in 1957 and in 1961 began studying with Robert Heinecken, who like O’Neill, had a background in design. Heinecken was, according to O’Neill, “bringing photography and Pop Art together and breaking the mold for what was acceptable in photography at that time” and he “welcomed transgressions of the purity of the medium.“
O'Neill's work reveals a keen interest in the possibilities of expanded photographic practice. His works explore not only the physicality of film stock, but also the objectness of film, the projected image and its framing. O'Neill's intense physical manipulation of film stock pre-figured many special effects that would later become commonplace in the movie industry. He states: "Altering the imagery from its original photographic state raises inevitable questions concerning its reception: What are we to believe? How is a representation changed by proximity with another? How does contradiction, itself, represent our experience?"
Sculpture and drawings have long been a part of O’Neill’s work. O’Neill draws from his immediate surroundings, his personal archives and found sources to create densely layered works. The works take on Southern California and Los Angeles in particular as an uncertain subject - a displaced location in space and time. His fiberglass and resin sculptures reveal the exploration of the new materials associated with post-War America that was a broad interest for a range of LA artists.