Laurence O'Toole

The World of Maisie J August 21 - 30 2003

Launching our autumn schedule is Laurence O’Toole’s with an exhibition entitled ‘The World of Maisie J’. This will be Laurence’s debut solo-show at the Oisín Gallery after his successful participation in March 2003’s group show. Born in Bray, County Wicklow in 1968, Laurence initially launched himself with a series of solo-shows in his local area; the first being an exhibition held in the Bank of Ireland in Bray. He later immigrated to South Africa where he became a member of the National Group Showing, exhibiting in five major cities. Between 1990 and 1996, whilst travelling extensively throughout America, he worked as a set and scenery painter, collaborating with innumerable eminent artists and directors on films such as Michael Collins, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the award-winning Saving Private Ryan. During this time, he continued to exhibit his work, now with the California Artists Guild, holding a series of successful major group-shows in San Diego, California and Phoenix Arizona. Laurence returned to his native Bray in Ireland in 1996 and currently divides his time between the film industry and his career as a fine artist.


Laurence O'Toole began to exhibit with the Oisín Gallery in early 2003 with a series of incandescent, larger-than-life figure studies focusing on one main theme; relationships. Loosely described as his Social Commentaries, the often-tense body language and exaggerated facial expressions illustrated his audacious ability to compel the viewer to re-assess many of our daily interactions with others.
This most recent exhibition, In the World of Maisie J, is the record of a child's journey into a world of dreams dominated by stark visions of hovering swans and dramatic skyscapes. The strong thematic structure oscillates fluently between these two central themes, taking us into the realm of fantasy; into a world where the most banal reality can become surreal. With exaggerated hyperrealism, reinforced by his use of vibrant colours, this visual installation is satiated with aesthetic hallucinations and many sociological references and centres on a story of forbidden love. It bears similarities in both context and imagery to Leda Atòmica, a painting by Salvador Dalí transcribed from the classical myth. The most popular version recounts that Zeus, the father of the gods, fell in love with the beautiful Leda, wife of Tyndareus the King of Sparta and upon rejection, transformed himself and seduced her whilst in the form of a swan.
In this particular collection of work, one of the most striking aspects of Laurence's talent is his ability to describe with such apparent ease the erratic, uneasy nature of love, relationships and sadness. His paintings, whilst being delightfully pleasing to the eye, are extremely psychologically charged: He invites the viewers' creative participation by stimulating the imagination. He allows us to discover significance whilst simultaneously demanding active participation in the making of his statement by ultimately forcing the viewer to react to the critical questions posed regarding gender roles, creed, race and identity.  – Antoinette L. Sinclair

Paintings in the exhibition