John David O'Brien's practice is grounded in historical abstraction and is derived from a hermeneutic impulse, both in interpretation and translation. He draws from the objects, images and environments that surround him and transforms them through different physical processes. O'Brien works from my memory as well as from his immediate surroundings. He believes the rationale for this work is to decipher and re-imagine the things in the world and put them into an expanded context where their normal use is bracketed while other levels of meaning are formulated.
The artist uses a combination of found objects and pre-existing structures that he places together with fabricated elements in order to create a visual archeology. The use of display cases and simple framing devices underscores the museum-like quality of the collections amassed. O'Brien references the history of Arte Povera in Italy and fuses that with west coast Assemblage art.
The artist tries to make art objects that, at first glance, strike the imagination. After that, O'Brien trusts that a viewer will track his process of abstraction through the re-interpretation and mis-translation that guided it. He is interested in beauty as an ineffable quality; however, O'Brien is equally interested in how art can inform and illuminate the act of classifying and interpreting that precedes the understanding we have of a given object or environment. In his artwork O'Brien aims to create a combination of visual elements that traces his speculation into how we give meaning to objects and environments in the world around us.