In Holding a Mask, O’Reilly once again draws from famous works in the art historical canon to create a fragmented image that is still strangely beautiful and oddly cohesive. In this work, Velazque’z Las Meninas is merged with Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat. O’Reilly combines the lifeless figure of Marat—here reproduced in black and white— with that of the Infanta—the central figure from Velazquez’s work—in such a way that Marat’s arms become the Infanta’s. The juxtaposition is particularly poetic considering that Marat’s murderer was Charlotte Corday, a young royalist. Furthermore, Marat/the Infanta holds a skull, crudely drawn by Picasso, which can viewed as a symbol of Marat’s death by Corday’s duplicity. In this way, the skull can be understood as the mask referenced in the title—a symbol of deception. ￼ ￼ John O’Reilly Holding a Mask, 2014 paper collage 16 x 20 inches ￼ ￼ The composite figure’s pose also recalls the familiar, moralizing Medieval and Renaissance motif “Death and the Maiden,” as well Hamlet’s soliloquy, “to be, or not to be;” both of which, when combined with the Infanta’s gaze out at the viewer, can be interpreted as an entreaty to the viewer to consider our own mortality. O’Reilly’s elision of the murder weapon in the lower left of David’s painting with a strip of paper, further allows for this montage to be seen as a general commentary on life and death, more easily applicable to our own lives, rather than that of a specific historical narrative. In this work, O’Reilly freely intertwines victim and killer, black and white and color, Baroque and Neoclassical masterpieces, and historical allusions, in a surprisingly seamless collage that disregards time, scale, and source in a way that we can normally only experience through half-remembered dreams.