Artist Rosário O’Neill was born in Portimão and has now returned to her hometown, where she has since opened an atelier, interior design studio and shop, in the heart of the city centre shopping area, with good friend and colleague, Maurícia Patrício. Having gained a degree in economics and entered the professional world, Rosário began to find a little spare time and was able to join a painting group with friends, in 2008. Her natural instincts and love of restoration pushed her towards finding a creative style, experimenting with materials and techniques, which are now clear to see in both the ‘Rosário O’Neill’ and ‘Eastlondon’ collections.
Back in 2010, Rosário felt strongly motivated to start exhibiting her works, and decided to dedicate most of her time creating exclusive and original pieces.
Painting on canvas was the original focus, depicting her very distinctive style where history and modern day combine to tell a story. Rosário explains: “I like the parody of old and new creating a unity and bringing historic moments in line with the present day. I feel a real connection with the past.” Many of the pieces on display in the Portimão studio are created with fabulous old clothes trunks, which have been lovingly restored, before Rosário’s paintings are placed inside them and various finishing touches are applied, ranging from lamps and display cabinets to bars. The trunks are sourced
from antique fairs, bric-a-brac shops and online. “Imagine where these trunks have been. What they have ‘seen’. This is what attracted me to them in the first place. They fit perfectly with my artistic ethos. I’ve found some absolutely amazing trunks that still have their original packaging labels on them, which are a real find and add to the authenticity of the final piece,” Rosário explains
Rosário spends a lot of time finding and restoring the wonderful antique items that become a part of her art.
“I’m always buying things on my travels and have a habit of picking up used common objects and putting them into storage. I know I will use them someday. They are subsequently transformed through painting and other mixed techniques, thus allowing them to have a new soul and enhance their characteristics. The aim is to create a special reference, with a bold personality and enable constant interaction with their surroundings,” Rosário reveals.
In 2014, Rosário was invited to exhibit in Milan, showing her work in an international exhibition, which was attended by several art curators and critics. Her works were well received and considered amongst the latest contemporary trends in mixed media art.
Progressing on her artistic journey, as the only Portuguese artist at the event, Rosário was invited to exhibit at one of the world’s most important contemporary art events – the London Art Biennale, in January 2015. In October 2015, Rosário showed her collection at the Florence Biennale, while in April 2016, invited by a prestigious New York gallery, her works were present at ArtExpo 2016, in New York City.
Rosário’s works are now starting to be recognised abroad, through several commissioned exhibits and international contemporary events.
ArtExpo, in New York City, was the backdrop for a series of six paintings, “Light Shadow” and “Post-modern State I, II, III, IV e V”. “Light Shadow” is a dark piece, which is based on a blend of the legend of Romulus and Remus and Christianity in Roman times, contrasted with a young modern-day lady, capturing the view on her mobile phone. The five pieces making up “Post-modern State” are of a much lighter subject matter and jovial nature, depicting a young, modern man dressed as Charlie Chaplin, going about his modern-day life, and featuring references to Apple, McDonald’s and the obligatory modern accessory, a smart phone. While these paintings are classic Rosário O’Neill,
“Light Shadow” sees her style evolving. Eastlondon is a new project, which, ultimately, complements the artist’s technique, but which takes her passion to another level.
“You will notice that the east side of major cities are usually the creative hubs, a place where things usually progress a little later, by their geographical nature and where the sun rises. I think this is why artists congregate in the east side. Eastlondon, for me, is the essence of what I love, combining old and new and creating a functional, bespoke piece that will improve in its surroundings and ultimately make an impression on whoever views it.
My latest creations include a vintage clarinet, which I restored and created an acrylic lamp base to cradle it, which is topped by a modern lampshade; a distressed goatskin fireplace chair, wrapped in gold leaf; a huge ornate chandelier and an acrylic case, containing a suspended painting,” Rosário tells us.
Her work is bound for a solo exhibition in New York in 2018, but for now, you can find it at MP “Interior Concept”, at Rua Vicente Vaz das Vacas 41A, Portimão.


Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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