Grace O'Connor: Trinkleyville

8 May - 13 June 2009

Paul Stolper is pleased to announce Grace O'Connor's new exhibition entitled 'Trinkleyville'. In these paintings she portrays the post adolescent males who lived in an area of her hometown, Waterbury, Connecticut, USA, which she christened 'Trinkleyville' in homage to a boy named Jimmy Trinkley. This mythical neighborhood was populated with local boys who hung together in gangs and remained aloof except from those allowed into their group.

Although not classically handsome, they typify the look of the late 80's ‘metal dude’. However through her use of exaggerated background colour, together with the pose and swagger adopted by the sitters from 'Trinkleyville' Grace’s paintings elevates them from regular boys to Pop icons. By painting their portrait she accords them a status that reflects their importance and stance among their peers, albeit in small town America. By painting portraits of the boys from Trinkleyville Grace enhances their mythical qualities, and captures the sitters at their most aspirational, when dreams are still real possibilities. The paintings transform their image, from what might have remained as photographic snapshots into ‘works of art’. Historically the portrait painting was commissioned to record the achievements of someone well known and important, and they would be painted surrounded by the objects that reflected their importance; books, globes, jewels, furs, etc. Similarly in Trinkleyville the boys are painted with symbols that reflect their lives and aspirations; guitars, rock ‘n’ roll t-shirts, packs of cigarettes carefully tucked t-shirts. 
These are boys who still might make it big in a band, who might escape their hometown and travel the world.

Worshipped from afar like the images of celebrity from the early covers of Andy Warhol's 'Interview' magazine, these boys are candy-coloured romantic visions of youth and manhood, and they reflect the absolute power they held in Trinkleyville. In Trinkleyville these boys were famous and important, especially to young impressionable girls. Much like films such as ‘American Grafitti’ or ‘The Last Picture Show’, they are coming of age paintings that speak of an innocence that has yet to be tarnished.

The sublime landscape tradition of American art conveys a longing which is at the heart of these works. Through significantly personal locations from her hometown the boys are linked with nature in a romanticized form most notably in 'Devotion' which was inspired by the love poems that Orlando pinned to the trees in dedication to the object of his desire Rosalind in Shakespeare's 'As you like it'.