John David O’Brien was born in Sagamihara, Japan; he currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California and Umbria, Italy.


            My practice is grounded in historical abstraction and is derived from a hermeneutic impulse, both in interpretation and translation. I draw from objects, images and environments around me and transform them through different physical processes. I work from my memory as well as from my immediate surroundings. I believe 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.
            To these ends, I use a combination of found objects and pre-existing structures that I place 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. I reference the history of Arte Povera in Italy and fuse that with west coast Assemblage art. Overall, I try to make art objects that, at first glance, strike the imagination. After that, I trust that a viewer will track my process of abstraction through the re-interpretation and mis-translation that guided it. I am interested in beauty as an ineffable quality; however, I am 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 my artwork, therefore, I aim to create a combination of visual elements that traces my speculation into how we give meaning to objects and environments in the world around us. I am interested in how we interpret them to our own ends.

            Along with my own artwork, I consider the temporary project spaces that I direct, the public art projects I participate in and my critical and descriptive writing about the arts as ways of extending my art making practice.

            The different works on this site are representative, but not exhaustive of my ongoing art production.