New exhibition of paintings by artist Eva O’Donovan. For this collection of portraits, Eva continues her distinctive oil on vintage fabric style, this time working with live models. She remains focused on the essence of femininity but for this collection celebrates and explores a broader conception of the term. In an attempt to redress the lack of visibility of those identifying as Transfeminine in the visual arts and portraiture in particular, the artist collaborated with Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) to find subjects for the Chrysalis series. The artist and sitters aim to promote Positive Visibility and the rights of trans people (and their families) by presenting a collection of powerful portraits featuring members of the Transfeminine and broader TENI community.
O’Donovan has worked closely with the participants featured in the paintings and their input has been key to the success of the project. Working from styled photographs and fabrics, they made key choices during the process and had final approval on the resulting canvasses. Much time was spent developing relationships before any work commenced. ‘This project has taken almost a year to put together and it has been a year of great growth and fun’ says O’Donovan.
‘I am drawn to fashion and interiors and my work follows an exploration into elements of each or both. Currently my paintings are constructed using primed stretched fabrics which serve as a backdrop to the thin and controlled application of oil paint to portray the subject. Paintings are usually constructed in two planes; the figure and the background on which they are presented and both are equally important. These two planes of the paintings are deliberately selected to work together. The paint is applied, in general, quite discretely throughout especially at the edges of the form to allow for a sense of emergence of the figure. This blurs the boundaries between the figure and the background creating a sense of cinematic drama’
With focus on the lineage of portrait painting and now with figures' poses reminiscent of those from fashion shoots and catwalk shows my work bears in mind society's constraints upon women through the ages which can be seen simmering just below the surface of the figure's gaze. These paintings are an ode to the strength it takes to be considered equal and a celebration of the femininity at the heart of this strength.