Transient Waters, Apocryphal Shore
“Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.”
[ Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking (The Creativity Post, December 6, 2011)]”
In Jeremy Olson’s first solo exhibition at Mindy Solomon Gallery, he explores the idea of the ocean as infinite but also as a space of anxiety. Filtered light cast over environments that feature water or sandy beaches provide an emotionally charged background for Olson’s depictions about the unknown nature of our world. Olson’s “figures” are metaphors for human beings. Drawn from a history of sketching and doodling, these pensive, curious, forlorn, characters tell a human story in a way that actual people cannot. Working from drawings and 3-d renderings, he models environments, and plans out the lighting and shadows. The humanoid forms are an invited cast of characters that enter these constructed spaces and bring meaning.
Olson states: “My recent paintings feature anthropomorphic creatures and objects in mostly constructed environments. There is often a reference to the natural landscape, but it is either off in the distance or somehow violated. They are attempts to think through what it means to be human in a moment of environmental devastation and failure of political imagination. The subjects in my paintings oscillate between feeling very relatable and very other, even threatening. They might be avatars for desires or motivations thwarted. I feel that they obliquely explore tensions between empathy and alienation, boosted by the political landscape and social media, and further heightened by the ongoing pandemic.
I generally think of each painting as discrete with its own internal logic or narrative. They are all part of the same universe in a sense, but at least for the moment there isn’t an overarching story. While the figures and locations are invented there is always a particular feeling or a certain sense of place I am trying to articulate, an emotional tenor. Ultimately I’m trying to communicate something outside of language but deeply human.”
Each painting draws the viewer into an invented space. Whether it is the dynamic water park of “in parasocial spiral” or the glowing red cliffs of “with sympathetic magic”, the hunt for details and appreciation for technique are overwhelming. Olson is a modern master, a practitioner of pure painting that speaks to his years of training and intense focus. One cannot help but be seduced by the elegant thoughtful brush strokes so carefully placed that they defy explanation. Transparent skin, soft feathery fur, ominous glowing clouds-an appealing array of elements thoughtfully conceived and meaningfully enjoyed. Each work is a masterpiece worthy of introspection. A masterful storyteller, Olson makes us consider our actions and the parallel universe that we create.
About Jeremy Olson
Born in Ojai, CA; Jeremy Olson is a Brooklyn-based artist working primarily in painting, with excursions into sculpture and video. His previous solo exhibition, the likes of others, was at Unit London in the UK. He has also shown his work in several venues in New York as well as Hong Kong, Berlin, Miami, Baltimore, Antwerp, Melbourne, and Seoul. Jeremy recently received a 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Painting.
Jeremy has been an artist in residence at Praksis Oslo in Norway, Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Nebraska, Oxbow School of Art & Artists’ Residency in Michigan, and the SVA Summer Residency in New York. Jeremy received a BFA from the University of Arizona and an MFA from NYU Steinhardt.