Justin Liam O'Brien - I Didn't Ask For A Free Ride, 2020 (detail)

Justin Liam O'Brien

Figurative Art

November 23, 2020

An American contemporary artist, Justin Liam O'Brien is best known for paintings of male nude figures which are wrought with sexuality and alienation.

Born in 1991, Flushing, NY, O'Brien currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY and an AS in Visual Arts from SUNY Suffolk, Selden, NY. In 2020, he decided to leave his day job behind in 3D modeling to focus solely on his craft in his studio, resulting in a stunning new direction in his work. He exhibited in a range of venues, including Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, NY, Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Tanja Wagner Gallery, Berlin, Germany, Situations, New York, NY, and Standard Projects, Hortonville, WI.

O'Brien paints nameless unspecified male nude figures, depicted awkwardly embracing, engaging in sexual acts and taking pictures of each other. Drawing inspirations from phone apps such as, Grinder, Tinder and Scruff, he explores the psychological oversimplified social-sexual environment queer people currently inhabit. Exploring the immediacy and emotional distance of this current digital landscape, but also the tenderness and feeling, he paints figures that have a sense of quiet that speaks to a deep sensitivity and an intense inner reality.

Featured image: Justin Liam O'Brien - I Didn't Ask For A Free Ride, 2020 (detail). Oil on canvas. 36 1/8 × 36 in. 91.8 × 91.4 cm. Photo courtesy Miles McEnery Gallery