Derek O’Connor

1957 Warwickshire, England
Australia since 1969

Derek O’Connor was born in England in 1959 and migrated to Adelaide in 1969. He later moved to Canberra to study painting at the Australian National University, and has since developed a successful career, exhibiting regularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra since 1991.

Derek is primarily an abstract painter whose work is informed by material, method and intuition. His paintings are layered, scraped-back and reworked until they reach completion, the subject often revealing itself. His work is imbued with fluidity and energy, and an emotive quality that comes from the physicality of his painting technique.

He is an avid reader particularly of art history and World War II literature and it is integral to his practice. His latest series Dog Days uses the covers of Time Life books as a background to his paintings.


Untitled was found in Derek’s studio archives when looking for work for this project. It is reflective of his thick oil paintings, containing the signature pallet knife strokes prevalent in his much of his work.

The brilliant brushwork, complex layering and rich colours used by the artist somehow call to mind fragments of landscape. Yet whether this landscape is within nature — the deep recesses of the earth and its tectonic movements — or within the depths of the mind is open to question. Derek is known for creating abstract works that evoke the senses and varying associations, and the swirling colours and textures of this image help to show us why.

Nancy Sever Gallery, Canberra
scarf derek 4
Oil on linen, 2008

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