Brian O’Leary is a New York City artist now working and residing in Southampton. He has been painting professionally, and designing buildings, since 1982. An Economics graduate of Duke University, Brian soon realized that the business world was not a good fit and enrolled at The School of Visual Arts, studying with such accomplished artists as Michael Goldberg, Jeffrey Lew, Don Eddy, Bruce Boice and Alice Aycock, among others. In his first year there he spent a life changing week working alongside (and drinking with) Robert Rauschenberg in his studio on Captiva Island. They went on to become lifelong friends. In 1982 he took a loft on the Bowery to begin working, soaking in the ferment of that neighborhood of artists. Among his acquaintances was Roy Lichtenstein, who mentored Brian as a painter and hired him to work on what became four large mural projects around the world. In 1987 Brian won one of four annual painting prizes from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters for a series of large scale figurative paintings. He had his first one man show at Ramscale Gallery in Manhattan the following year.
O’Leary painted figurative paintings until 1999 when he completed a process of finding his most elemental creative possibility by eliminating figuration and color from the work. What began as an experiment has become an ongoing pursuit.