Painter Erik Olson has a strangely cool way of abstracting the human body in Architecture of the Face and his other portrait exhibitions. Some of the images are like you’re looking through a glass or prism which distorts them, while others look like they’ve been chopped into sections or twisted around. I think they offer a contemporary take on cubism.
These portraits look like the faces have been chopped or fractured apart, but within each exploded piece, you can also see bold brush strokes. The oil paintings are on vivid, solid colour backgrounds and have occasional, surprising streaks of bright colour which gives them a graphic quality.
“There’s quite a range in my work, but in one way or another, I think of the paintings as being about portraiture, about constructing identity,” Olson says, “With much of my work I’m trying to find that middle ground between pure colour field abstraction and classical figuration. They’re two forms of painting that have, each in their own way, sort of hit a dead end. In combining them, I’m trying to find a way forward.”