Ryan Oliver, “girl with t-shirt”, photomontage, 2011 Stephen Tribbell, Surrender, mixed media on board, 2010 Russell Oliver “Cowl” , acrylic on canvas, 2011
Since its inception by Picasso and Braque almost a century ago, collage (and the more recently coined term appropriation art) has played an important role in the development of 20th Century Art and continues to attract new admirers and exponents for its techniques, not least the artists featured in Olyvia Fine Art’s new exhibition, ‘Media appropriation’. The three featured artists all approach their practice in very different ways and yet have something quite obviously evident in common – the desire to appropriate images, objects and text for their own ends; whether the subject is concerned with the objectification of women or the role of mass media and advertising in society or is simply concerned with aesthetics alone these artists are assured they are following in a tradition that is steeped in history.
By appropriating various media the artist transforms the source material giving it a whole new existence, in some examples the material becomes re-contextualized and subsequently takes on a whole new meaning. In Ryan Oliver’s piece Maybe I’ll go buy a magazine the artist creates an elaborate landscape filled with grotesques running rampage and devouring what appears to be human flesh, upon further investigation we discover these ‘grotesques’ are in fact montages of women’s body parts appropriated from pornography and fashion magazines. What was once perceived by some as beautiful and desirable has mutated into something altogether quite different, shocking, and even horrific perhaps, but then is that really any different to its source material? This is of course dependant on the viewer’s point of view and it is this idea of transformation, physically and symbolically, that is essentially what underpins the nature of the artworks presented in ‘Media Appropriation’.
Russell’s first body of work comprises film posters transformed into elaborate collage-paintings; largely abstract and seemingly different to their source material one is encouraged to create a new narrative amongst the transformed and agitated space and yet despite this a feeling of familiarity remains.
Russell’s more recent work comprises large portraits which are painted studies of photographic portraits by Terry Richardson and Ryan McGinley. Here Russell blends figurative with abstract and expressionist painting; an attempt to combine tight detail and looseness with an exaggerated use of colour and brushstroke in a mixture of solid, formal line and gestural streaks that make one look beyond the initial image and discuss the merits of the photographic and/or the painted.
Ryan appropriates fashion advertising and photography to question the position of women within such imagery and their representation. These objectified visions of the female form have been cut from their origins and juxtaposed with strenuous misalliance, invalidating beauty’s all important symmetrical balance.
Other works shown in the exhibition facilitate dialogue between the innuendo laden visual language of fashion imagery with pornography by exchanging the implicit for the explicit, drawing parallels where the female form is commodity. The artist’s latest works confront fashion’s fallacious covenant of eternal youth; tumorous flesh, death and grief are imposed as rebuttal.
The content within Stephen Tribbell’s collages is often very specific and chosen with purpose however despite this he often chooses not to attribute meaning to his work, preferring instead to allude to ideas through hidden suggestions within the collages or their titles, sometimes with reference to the concept of history, propaganda and mass media. Ultimately for him the joy of seeing is enough; the sheer abundance of visual stimuli in the modern world is his source material and from this he creates his elaborate collages, and yet the painter within is never far away; almost as a form of catharsis the artist uses paint to splatter, drip and smear across the canvas which give the static text and imagery a sense of energy that was not present before.
OLYVIA FINE ART
formerly Olyvia Oriental, was founded in 2005 by Olyvia Kwok, and quickly established itself as a leading gallery for contemporary Chinese paintings in the UK. Since then, it has enjoyed great success promoting Chinese artists from the post 1989 avant-garde movements, and those born in the wake of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The gallery has been dedicated to establishing Chinese contemporary art as an integral part of international contemporary art.
Having successfully promoted the Asian scene, the gallery has recently expanded its market to include western, modern and contemporary art. Its aim is to show international emerging and established Chinese and Asian artists in juxtaposition with Western contemporary artists and their modern forbears.
From 4th August to 2nd September 2011.
Opening preview 4th August 6.00 pm.
Contact & further information:
17 Ryder Street
London SW1Y 6PY
Tel. +44 207 925 2986
Fax. +44 207 839 5845