Mike O'Brien's first UK solo exhibition showcases a series of unplanned figurative drawings combined with annotations laden with a potent sense of dark humour, absurdity and irony. Trained as a fine artist at the Limerick school of Art & Design (Ireland's “second best art college”) O'Brien's crude graphic style gives his work an immediate and accessible appeal, while simultaneously offering observant and insightful commentary on the absurdities of human relationships and modern life.
'Touch Me' draws on O'Brien's personal experience as the youngest sibling of ten, a school-boy, an art-student, and a worker of low paid, dead-end jobs. Working exclusively on cheap paper torn from waiter's notepads the drawings reveal O'Brien's interest in exposing the personal, unseen world of the individual. His work is compulsive, immersive, humorous, sexually charged, and ultimately evocative. O'Brien refuses the viewer the luxury of a chronological foothold, instead inviting us into a disorientating world where we are addressed indiscriminately by the naïve child, the street bully, the ungrateful son, the randy school-boy, the disillusioned shop assistant, the disciplinary father and the philosophical petrol pump attendant.
O'Brien's work reveals an insight into the lives of many young men in post Celtic Tiger Ireland, and indeed, in the world at large today. Economic crisis has created a kind of Neverland where the path to adulthood has become increasingly difficult to travel, leaving a trail of men-children with little better to do than to eat Cheerios, play X-Box, watch porn and doodle.