Justin Liam O’Brien

Justin Liam O’Brien is a narrative painter. His works portray characters, mainly male, within spaces inspired by the artist’s everyday life as well as historical painting. The artist delights in depicting the ambivalence of intimate emotions, often at bursting point or in the second after the explosion. He explores the psychological dimension of the relationship between bodies and architecture, where an individual is depicted in the solitude of an apartment or perhaps multiplied in the setting of a crowd. Justin Liam O’Brien’s very particular style of painting is immediately recognizable through its rounded forms, typical of the computer software he used as a 3D animator. His characters often bear the features of the artist himself or his family members and close friends, whereas the curvaceous lines and smooth skin of their bodies, painted in flat color tints, using a bold palette, with very few effects apart from the use of subtle color gradients, evoke the architypes of classical painting. The compositions condensed within the paintings and the rounded perspectives generate a claustrophobic and disorienting effect. As part of a lineage of Queer artists, O’Brien explores the subjects of identity, isolation, sadness and humor, set in a changing world.

Justin Liam O’Brien was born in 1991 in Flushing, New York and lives and works in Brooklyn. After graduating from the Pratt Institute in 2016, his work was exhibited at the Richard Heller gallery in Los Angeles and the Monya Rowe gallery in New York. He also participated in a group show on the subject of the self-portrait, curated by Sasha Bogojev at High Line Nine in New York. He has featured in articles in Elephant Magazine, Artforum and Juxtapoz.