In his small abstract paintings Ohio-based artist Scott Olson seems to evoke European movements and traditions from art history. Suggestions of the European Avant-Garde, Malevich, Braque and Klee and even the Renaissance and Illuminations are apparent. And yet the paintings are very much Olson’s own. Through a kind of painterly process of cutting and pasting Olson creates works that are both knowing and innocent.
The geometric and sometimes erratic motifs shift in scale between intense detail and open form. Olson’s coloration is, in some works, light and translucent, while in others, moody and aged. Through the application of various techniques the surfaces in some instances appear distressed but, rather than indicating a false aging, these traces are more the result of an investigation into the potentialities of painting.
Olson methodically applies paint through a process of sanding, combing, stenciling, scraping and various other non-typical techniques. These inevitably yield an image or iconic form that lies between erratic gesture and intentionality. The tension or contradiction between the process oriented approach and the carving out of an image yields results that are sometimes unplanned, unexpected and born out of the influence of chance.
In a review of Olson's first solo exhibition in New York, Roberta Smith writes,
[Olson's paintings] evoke manuscript illumination filtered through Constructivism and other abstract styles. His colors have a slightly watered-down, retroactive subtlety; frequently they are translucent, to reveal the complex decisions and elaborate processes packed into each work. Different physical supports (canvas, fiberboard, heavily gessoed wood) further complicate Mr. Olson’s processes. ...Taping and retaping have left shards of sharp color that stand out like little ruins against absorbent grays and blacks. ...The forms are laid on in thin glazes with fine, varied textures, creating echo chambers of form that suggest faceted jewels, flattened out. Mr. Olson clearly wants to make paintings whose smallness doesn’t rule out finding something new each time you look.
Smith, Roberta. "Is Painting Small the Next Big Thing?" The New York Times, April 19th 2008, pp. B7 and B11. ill.
Born in 1976 and based in Ohio, Scott Olson received an MFA this year from Ohio State University in Columbus. This spring he will participate in an exhibition curated by Pati Hertling at Chelsea Art Museum, New York. He has exhibited in solo exhibitions at Taxter and Spengemann, New York, and Overduin and Kite, Los Angeles (both 2008). Olson has been included in group exhibitions and performances at Gavin Brown’s Passerby, New York; Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu, Japan; Museum fuer angewandte Kunst ,Vienna, Austria; Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo. He also produced an audio CD, Liam Gillick Meets Scott Olson in Japan on the Whatness label in 2002. This is Olson’s first solo exhibition in Europe. svensk