William J. O’Brien’s Enchanted Circus Installation Is Packed Full of Dizzying Detail—See It Here

Show of the Day: "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago.

Installation view of William J. O'Brien's
Installation view of William J. O'Brien's "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

WILLIAM J. O’BRIEN

“Reliquary”
Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago

What the Gallery Says: “‘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?”

Why It’s Worth a Look: A captivating installation that casts a mystical aura in this white-cube urban gallery, this show is an embarrassment of riches.

What It Looks Like: 

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

Installation view of William J. O'Brien's "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

William J. O'Brien's Untitled (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago.

Installation view of William J. O'Brien's "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery South Loop.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary” at Shane Campbell Gallery South Loop.

Installation view of William J. O'Brien's "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary” at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017). Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

William J. O'Brien's <em>Untitled</em> (2017) from "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017) from “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

William J. O'Brien's <i>Untitled</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017). Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

William J. O'Brien's <i>Untitled</i> (2017), part of "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017). Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

William J. O'Brien's <i>Untitled</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017). Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

William J. O'Brien's <i>Untitled</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago.

William J. O’Brien’s Untitled (2017). Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

Installation view of William J. O'Brien's "Reliquary" at Shane Campbell Gallery, South Loop in Chicago.

Installation view of William J. O’Brien’s “Reliquary.” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photography by Evan Jenkins.

“Reliquary” is on view through February 3, 2018.

Shane Campbell Gallery’s South Loop location is at 2021 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago.


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