The work of Junko O’Neill is inspired by the Japanese spacial and temporal concept of Ma, which considers negative space as having a form of existence, with space perceived alongside time. It is neither time alone nor space alone. She expresses this concept both in figurative and abstract work.
With her figurative paintings, O’Neill often places a figure in the foreground, viewed from the behind. To give the subtle suggestion of passing of time, she paints the air in a way that emphasises the space the figure occupies. The inspiration of her figurative work is often drawn from literacy pieces, especially Japanese novels such as those of Haruki Murakami and Yoko Ogawa.
Her abstract work conveys the fundamental concept of Ma by stripping away any excess elements. She experiments with ways to depict space where time flows at a slower pace, detached from the rest not by a physical structure but by one’s own perception. O’Neill adds translucency and depth to the two dimensional surface that she creates. Similar to gem stones which encase time within them, she traps space and time, creating a tension that holds an underlying sense of calm.
Either through her figurative or abstract pieces of work, what O’Neill creates on the surface is space with a sense of time passing. She believes her work to provide a breathing space for the viewer and let him sense the transient nature space possesses.