Duality by Shane O'Malley

At the core of my process or the thing that drives me is the need to connect with people to find a oneness.

Visual and street artist Shane O'Malley spoke to us about his work Duality. A series of geometric colour collages creating fragmented whole shapes. The series mimics the frailty and fragmentation of his own mind while trying to dealing with his own mental health issues. In the work overall O'Malley aims for empathy found in the distortion of the inner depictions of the shapes but the calmness in the geometric order to override that anxiety he's visually evoked from an audience.


Taking inspiration from past struggles with mental health, I set out to make a series of uplifting images that use both colour and geometric patterns to create a contrast. A visual conflict, like a conflict of the mind but by choosing to focus on a pattern or a colour, the conflict disappears for a moment. Leaving you with a positive after thought.

Tell us more about you and your artwork.

Hi, My name is Shane O’Malley, I’m an Irish artist who work outdoors on walls, making street art and I paint on canvas in my studio in Galway city, on the west coast of Ireland. I started painting graffiti when i was 16 and studied Visual Communication in L.S.A.D. Over the past year or two i've focused more on painting and street art came out of that. My style uses bold colour and geometric shapes to explore ideas that resonate with me like my struggles with mental health, how identity is formed, my mind etc. I suppose I’m trying to use my art as a way to connect with people, hopefully change perceptions too.

Image by  Julia Dunin

Image by Julia Dunin

How did you plan for this project? What was your creative process?

I came from spending time in the studio painting, working through some mental health stuff at the start of the year. When i was in healthy mindset I felt like making it into an exhibition. Then a few months later I had the exhibition in Coffeewerk & Press in Galway and yeah it got a great response.

What work inspires or has inspired you?

In college I was drawn to study the bauhaus but it wasn’t until recently that i read books written by Kandinsky and Albers, their writings on colour had a huge impact on my process. I love the dept in Rothko's paintings and the graphic works by Frank Stella.

Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?

The move in art into abstraction always interested me from seurats paintings to pollock’s abstract expressionism to the OP art of Carlos Cruz-Diez. The effect of colour on people, as way to communicate ideas fascinates me

Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?

At the core of my process or the thing that drives me is the need to connect with people to find a oneness. I usually have an idea i want to communicate with my paintings and murals, then i put it out into the world, if people are interested or stimulated by it, they interact and we start a conversation.


Duality is a very visually evocative series. Initially the patterns and colour almost clash but the after effect is something very appealing. We noticed some slight influences from common-place patterns and very harsh colour palettes. Can you tell us more about what influenced this body of work, especially in relation to previous mental health issues?

So “Duality” came from a place where i was trying to capture visually what mental health was like for me. My mind is drawn to seek out patterns in things. I was also interested in Kandinsky's writings on colour from his book “Concerning the spirituality in art” he talks about the eccentric movement of yellow and concentric movement blue. Putting the two beside each other and you have a strong contrast. I wanted to take that further using colour and form to create a visual conflict, fighting with each other for your attention. The aim was the create a feeling of unease, referencing what it was like for when when I had bouts of Psychosis, being pulled this way and that in my mind. Restless. By focusing on a positive element within the work it was like when i focused on positive things around me like family & friends the conflict was broken for a moment.

Any words for aspiring artist?

Create, work, study, create, eat, sleep. Repeat… :) Be an artist of your time, I think it's difficult to be original but try and make work that adds to society. Make work that inspires you and the people around you...

Is there anything you’re currently working on?

Ive a few cool personal projects that I’m developing at the moment exploring memory and some big Corporate jobs too so that’s exciting. If you're interested check out my instagram to see them pop up over the next few months. @shaneomalleyart

Is your work being exhibited anywhere currently?

I have a really cool project happening at the moment "Art & Style" in Brown Thomas on Grafton Street in Dublin with an exhibition in store from the 12th to the 18th of April

View his work. Follow his IG. Follow his FB.