Lucienne O'Mara

Lucienne O’Mara is a London-based painter working mostly in portraiture, who graduated from City & Guilds in 2011. She creates large-scale watercolours, using a variety of washing and re-working techniques to “stain” her canvases with layered images, building on them until an abstracted, vaguely humanoid depiction appears.

O’Mara’s seemingly classical discipline of portrait painting belies the true values of her pieces, which lie in their gritty subject matter and the intensely drawn-out processes lying beneath the surface. Her works are anecdotal in nature, the only clue to this being the visual ambiguity of the subjects of the pieces, abstracted through clever painting techniques. Rather than being orchestrated, static monuments, her paintings represent the creative output of a long process of communication between artist and subject, making their genesis and method of creation deeply analogical to their back stories.

The characters in O’Mara’s paintings are grouped by a common lifestyle choice which is often considered to be outside of society’s “norm”; the fluidity of the paintings serves to literally blur their images but rather than serving to censor them instead creates an alchemical world in which their very real, gritty, personal stories are transformed into something ethereal and engaging.

The real beauty of O’Mara’s works lies in their ambiguity. The figures in her paintings are larger than life-size, suggesting an idolatry or tribute to the subjects which, given their “taboo” nature, can be seen to surpass mere acceptance and goes right ahead to glorification. The paintings’ exquisite aesthetic beauty lures the viewer into joining the artist in glorifying the subjects which, given their true “taboo” nature, works to create a positive space which subverts mainstream notions of acceptance and rejection. It is within this space that the viewer can share in the subject’s validation, a rare zone of affirmation that has yet to be achieved in the characters’ own lives and so must be conjured through their portraits.