P! and Simone Subal Gallery are thrilled to present their second solo exhibition by Brian O’Doherty (also known as Patrick Ireland). Featuring rarely-exhibited works from the 1960s and 1970s, the exhibition follows a strand of thinking that connects the artist’s synthesis of embodied and encoded language with abstract form.
The show focuses on several distinct but related bodies of work. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a set of mirrored, colored sculptures that employ “Ogham,” an ancient linear Celtic code. Recurring in O’Doherty’s work, Ogham is resonant with embedded significance and legible to the instructed eye. Through their incised texts, painted surfaces, and focus on the viewer’s relationship to them, the sculptures evade easy classification among other minimal and conceptual works of the period. Several large unprimed canvasses from 1975 are based on a series of small “Hair Collages,” in which the length of each randomly plucked hair (from the artist’s own head) was measured and then crossed with a drawn straight line of the same dimension. On view for the first time in nearly forty years, these paintings register O’Doherty’s performative tracing as an analytical yet light gesture. Complemented by a selection of the artist’s drawings from 1969–1979, the exhibition offers an enduring investigation of line itself as a way to hold meaning.