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Alex Olson at Park View / Paul Soto
November 20, 2021 - February 19, 2022(All times are in PDT)
Alex Olson’s paintings often play with illusionistic space, presenting us with nesting patterns, paintings within paintings, and surfaces that peel back like ripped pages to reveal layers underneath. She uses paint as a technician, highlighting the breadth of what the material can do.
“My goal isn’t to transport the viewer,” she once said. “It’s to offer up everything on the surface for the viewer to parse out, no additional text required.”
The artist’s new self-titled exhibition at Park View / Paul Soto notably doesn’t include a press release. Consistent across the new paintings is a viscous and thick drip of paint that Olson often applies in stripes across her paintings, sometimes layering a lighter color over a darker ground to suggest space and shadow. These tears imply temporal shifts in the paintings, often neatly separating stylistic changes or alluding to hidden possibilities.
In Sketch (2021), Olson replicates scribbled sketchbook pages onto the canvas, each depicting a plan for a future painting — some of which have been realized in the exhibition. Yet in the upper right corner, an off-kilter rectangle is demarcated with yellow drips, framing a vibrant series of marks and patterns which rebel against the paintings’ otherwise ochre-hued color, almost as if the artist were defying her own ordered plans for a moment of wild reverie.
Page Turner (2021), meanwhile, is almost all drips, stacked in vertical lines. Behind them, on the far left of the canvas, Olson’s colorful brushstrokes appear to be both crammed in and expanding, at odds with the regimented drips which dominate the piece. Together, the elements of the canvas offer spaces where we might ruminate on tension, balance, and expansion.
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Photo: Alex Olson, Page Turner (detail) (2021). Image courtesy of the artist and Park View / Paul Soto. Photo: Marten Elder.