Bart O’Reilly Paints, Without Painting

Dublin, Ireland native Bart O’Reilly is one of eight participants in MICA’s Summer MFA in Studio Art program. He is culminating his three years of study with a thesis exhibition that opens Friday, July 13 in the Fox Building.  This interdisciplinary program, designed to  expand understanding of contemporary art through research-based studio practice, accommodates a variety of media and aesthetics.

O’Reilly has worked out of a studio space at LOAD OF FUN on North Avenue since late 2005, making him the artist-in-residence there with the longest tenure.  His work during the past seven years has been built on a foundation of painterly abstraction.

Bart’s work has consistently reached further into the realm of video, to the point where his upcoming exhibition shows no paintings, but an installation of original source material from three different projectors installed in a space that somewhat resembles the studio.

The video work is austere yet gritty, consisting of video compiled from still photos showing the assemblage of found materials in the studio.  The resulting painterly compositions are both abstract and figurative, blurring the boundary between finished and raw space by transposing the content back and forth: an intriguing juxtaposition that enables the medium of video production and projection to transport the viewer into the artist’s studio.

Bart’s portfolio, including links to recent videos as well as his earlier paintings, can be found online at

The video installation and Bart’s recent work, however, may be even more painterly than the medium would suggest, attributable perhaps to the artist’s unique aesthetic and also to his consistent work in this arena.

O’Reilly says his recent work is “concerned with actions that occur over periods of time and the traces they leave behind, natural processes, the passing of time, the actions of society.  I try to explore the slippage between what we perceive and what we claim to know.”

Bart also works full-time as a teacher of art for developmentally disabled adults at the Providence Center south of Baltimore, so he spends plenty of time painting, teaching and grappling with numerous challenges in studio and classroom environments.

It is intriguing to watch the video composed largely of objects being moved around in the studio captured by still photos, on the projected image it appears as though the fragments of drywall, scraps of tape and plastic are dancing, or hesitantly mingling like early arrivals at a cocktail party.

O’Reilly achieves through insight, experimentation, composition and editing, an exceedingly painterly effect, and the images on the video certainly hark back to his earlier works on canvas featuring pools of viscous oil and abstract landscape elements.

Several earlier shows of O’Reilly’s work hinted at the convergence of media, including a 2010 solo exhibition, “New Lines From The Luminous State”, at Flashpoint Gallery in Washington, DC, which integrated video and large works on paper.

His previous show, in 2008, “Slippages”, a two-person exhibition with Sheldon Drake at AXD Gallery in Philadelphia, consisted only of paintings, so perhaps it has taken several years for O’Reilly to put the final nails in the coffin of traditional painting and shift his focus to the compelling fluidity of video.

Bart has also shown his work at the Creative Alliance and Montage Gallery in Baltimore, has participated in group exhibitions at Nudashank and WindUp Space, among other venues, and has exhibited in Ireland at the Kenny Gallery in Galway and the Rubicon Gallery in Dublin.

The time that he has spent honing his skills in the studio is evident in his numerous installations and in the assemblage effects portrayed in his videos, which reveal a painter’s eye behind the camera as he combines still shots and moving pictures of light blinking through swaying tree branches, reflected through holes in barns, buildings and windows, and the recent videos of various translucent materials conjuring up a haunting series of images along the wall of north-facing windows in his spacious studio.

See a preview at

This exhibition also includes work by the other program participants listed below, along with the following schedule of artist talks.  Come over to MICA and check it out!

Friday July 6th 4:00 to 6:30pm

Bart O’Reilly, Patti Meyers, Jason Andrew Bowles


Saturday July 7th 4:00 to 6:30pm

Solange Roberdeau, Dianne Pappas, Chas Foster


Monday July 9th 4:00 to 6:30pm

Bernadine Schroyer, Mark Dixon, Christian Hali.


Opening Reception Friday, July 13

6 to 8 pm, in the Decker and Meyerhoff Galleries (Fox Building, 1303 W. Mt. Royal Ave.) and the Pinkard Gallery (Bunting Center, 1401 W. Mt. Royal Ave.)