It’s nearly two years since I first saw Junko O’Neill’s dreamy landscapes and abstracts so I was interested to see what has changed in her latest exhibition. Size, for one thing. ‘It was hard to store large canvases,’ she told me, laughing a little ruefully. ‘And my husband said “Can’t you paint something smaller?” Smaller is better for customers too.’ Not that her new work is tiny, but it will certainly fit your walls nicely.
It’s not just the size that’s likely to suit you. The pictures themselves are restful and will fit in with most decors. ‘I get some of my inspiration from fashion and lifestyle magazines,’ Junko told me. I can see that in the colours, though we had an interesting discussion about how difficult it is to reproduce colours accurately in photographs. It’s something Junko has had to struggle with recently as she’s selling prints of her works as well, so being faithful to the colours of the originals is crucial.
Her delicate turquoises are particularly difficult to reproduce. We stood in front of this painting comparing the colours in my photo (on the iPad) with the colours of the picture in front of us.
My photo was way off towards the deep blue end of the spectrum. I’ve tried to correct it, but your best solution if you want to see the real colour is to go down to the Coningsby Gallery and see the show for yourself. It’s conveniently situated just round the corner from Goodge St tube station (such a relief after my frequent trips to the farther shores of Shoreditch).
The Coningsby Gallery is a nice little space, very suited to displaying Junko’s work. I loved these hands holding up the banisters to the little staircase between two levels.
It’s warm and bright, a pleasant little oasis just off the busy Tottenham Court Road, where the paintings have a chance to shine.
Junko’s work is inspired by the Japanese concept of ‘ma’ or space. She says ‘What I portray with my work is space, where time is seemingly halted but also where something has just happened or is about to happen. Emptiness is deliberately expressed in order to suggest potential.’ That may explain the feeling of peace and calm that pervades her work.
It’s a lovely little exhibition so try and get there if you can. The Coningsby Gallery is at 30 Tottenham St and it’s open 9am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm. The exhibition is only on until this Saturday, 22nd November, so make sure you don’t miss it.