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Our Lady's College, Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Olga Baunbaek Reilly


Olga Baunbæk Reilly ( b. 1973) is a contemporary Irish painter based in Copenhagen.
Characterised by layered surfaces and distinctive compositions, Reilly’s paintings embody a new genre of landscape painting. Her work is often figurative, with a disquieting, dreamlike quality, drawing inspiration from a wide range of archival source materials;theatre sets, circus props, scenography and the layered topography of Ireland, where she grew up. Coastal backdrops, distant mountains, stones, birds and flags are recurrent elements within her work.
Olga was born in Drogheda and grew up in the countryside of the Boyne Valley, spending summers by the sea in Bettystown. She studied Fine Art and earned her Degree in Sculpture in 1996 at York Street Art College in Belfast. Working consecutive summers in New York, she was exposed to the city’s vibrant art scene, it’s galleries and museums offering contemporary collections at the Chelsea Galleries and MoMa, and old masters at The Frick and The Met.
After graduation, Reilly lived in Tokyo for two years, working with a group of international artists. She tempered her culture shock by immersing herself in it; the Japanese Tea Ceremony Sado, performances of Noh Theatre, visiting the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, the Sento Baths and even a rock concert on Mount Fuji. One highlight of her time in Tokyo, was a pre-dawn visit with her Mother, Sinéad, to the extraordinary Tsujiki Fish Market.
This nomadic lifestyle directly informs Reilly’s work. A rich visual language overlaps
personal memories, merging past, present and future. While living in Tokyo, she was
introduced to the philosophy behind different Japanese art forms such as Kintsugi and Wabi-Sabi, focusing on transcience and imperfection, which is echoed in her use ofpictorial space to consider the fragile nature of exile, identity and authenticity.
A green card led Reilly from Japan to San Francisco in 1998, where she joined a vibrant art scene from her studio in Noe Valley. Here she began experimenting with fresco painton canvas. It was her day-job as Director of a commercial art studio that allowed her to travel extensively across the U.S. working with commercial clients. These travels were to have a significant impact on Reilly’s future work.
Art installations at Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert, road trips along The BigSur and the epic scale of Yosemite National Park, continue to influence her work today.After 6 years on the west coast, Reilly returned to New York and freelanced from her studio in Brooklyn. In 2004 she met her future Danish wife in Manhattan. Two years later, after a decade of living abroad, she moved back to Europe, reconnected with Ireland, and settled in Copenhagen, where she now lives with her wife and two children.
Exhibitions include solo shows in New York and Copenhagen and juried exhibitions inDenmark and Ireland. Previous shows include Lost At Last (2019) Fleadh Cheoil, Connolly Hall, Drogheda. RUA 136th Annual Exhibition (2017), Titanic Buildings, Belfast. Kulturhavn (2011) Skabelonloftet, Copenhagen. KE10 Efterårsudstilling, (2010) Carlsberg Buildings, Copenhagen. Afterimage (2010) Galleri Krebsen, Copenhagen. Earthmapping (2009) Irish Arts Center Gallery, New York. A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: RUA 127th Annual Exhibition (2008) Titanic Buildings, Belfast. Journeys In Colour (2008) Dumbo Arts Festival, Brooklyn.