Joe Neill

Born in 1944 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, lives and works in and around Paris

Transparent Spaces and Constructed Dreams – Paris, October 1997

In the clutter of his studio, Joe Neill tries to find a name for his imaginary cities, cardboard cutouts with a thousand twists and turns.

Who hasn’t dreamed of a journey across the universe? I can picture them drifting in space, moored to some space station or other, where, utterly weightless, we float from one floor to the next beneath the watchful gaze of the stars. Their precise lines and lyrical curves project us into orbit around some unknown imaginary planet. There are gardens colored in crayons, pathways in India ink, iridescent parks, and even chromatic fountains!

We stroll around some sort of Tower of Babel, an interstellar cathedral that will never reach the heavens because it is already there: speeding its way beyond our stratosphere in an undetermined dimension of space-time.

Architect of an uncertain future, Joe Neill shares his visions with us through his drawings and sculptures and takes us to a distant universe that is perhaps quite close.

Lélia Mordoch

The Outside World Also Exists… Paris, October 2003

There’s a small sign hanging at the entrance to Joe Neill’s studio that’s impossible to miss and keeps him grounded: “The outside world also exists…” Don’t forget the eggs? Yves Tanguy was always completely absorbed in his painting.

There’s sometimes such a symbiosis between pencil and hand that one can no longer tell where the drawing comes from. It transcends reason to emerge ex nihilo, in a manner similar to the Surrealists’ use of automatism, so strongly advocated by André Breton and his friends.

The outside world no longer exists. One goes around in circles – around what, one may ask? – without finding a way out. Is there, then, a center? In Joe Neill’s drawings, there’s always a center, the point at which genesis begins, the point around which his hand moves.

The outside world no longer exists; whether there’s rain or wind matters little; maybe a hurricane could return us to reality. Does creation come from this world? Weren’t the words of the Iliad dictated by a muse, an outside force conjured up by the blind Homer.

The outside world also exists.When he walks into his studio every day, Joe Neill comes face to face with this maxim, rising from his mazelike thoughts. Here, I am the Universe. Just thinking it is enough to bring it to life again.

Lélia Mordoch