The work of Junko O’Neill is inspired by the Japanese spacial and temporal concept of Ma, which considers space or void, either physical or temporal, is having a form of existence. With Ma, time and space are not separate entities: space is perceived alongside time. She expresses this concept both in figurative and abstract work.
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.
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.
Either through her figurative or abstract pieces of work, what O’Neill creates on the surface is space with a sense of time passing. Her work is the expression of the transient nature that space possesses.