SHANE CAMPBELL GALLERY / RELIQUARY
‘Reliquary’ is simultaneously a minimal and maximal effort for the artist. It is a generous and intimate affair. William J. O’Brien has constructed an immersive installation that explores his wide range of material experimentation. In this particular show, three orderly tapestries made of stitched felt are centered on each of the gallery’s four walls with one wall empty and unlit. In the center of the gallery, a hand-painted circus tent or, as the artist describes, ‘magic box’ is erected with gestural ink-wash drawings of eyes and filigree covering its surface; looking outward and looking inward. Two life-size ceramic totems (protectors) guard the main entrance. Inside the tent a pedestal displays bronze vessels and ceramic sculptures with glazes that defy control but belie a deft of hand. Looking beyond the ceramics, back outside the tent, the felt tapestries permute abstractions of the ‘tree of life,’ connecting the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. This show represents a new level of experimentation and scale for the artist, and who doesn’t love the circus?