about the exhibition
New Works 12.2
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
July 12–September 23, 2012ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jacco Olivier creates short, painterly video animations of abstract and figurative scenes depicted on series of small panels, photographed in stages of progress. Inspired by nature, domestic life, and the fluidity of paint, his dream-like videos fuse the traditional medium of painting with high-definition photography. While pieces such as Stumble (2009) depict a recognizable subject (a painterly beetle righting itself), other pieces such as Landscape (2010) employ a minimal sense of realism with a vague strip of land passing beneath a bird’s eye view. Regardless of subject matter, all of his animations highlight luscious brushstrokes, swaths of saturated color, and paint droplets.
Olivier is a graduate of the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and also studied at the Hogeschool voor Kunst en Vormgeving, Den Bosch, from 1991-1996. He has exhibited worldwide, including a 2012 presentation of Revolution (2010) at the New York City Center in conjunction with the New Museum, New York. Other recent solo exhibitions include Instituut voor Mediakunst, Amsterdam (2012); a public art commission at Madison Square Park, presented by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York (2012); Jacco Olivier: Recent Video Works, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany (2011); Victoria Miro Gallery, London, England (2010); Centro de Arte de Caja de Burgos, Spain (2010); and Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, Texas (2010).
ABOUT THE PROCESS
Olivier begins with a single image painted on a small wood panel. He layers paint on the surface, photographing the progress in stages. A series of panels-none of which are fully realized pieces-comprise the final animation. His active, expressive brushstrokes allow him to find inspiration in smeared paint and inadvertent droplets of pigment; he embraces these “little happy accidents in paint.” A particular stroke or glob of paint filtered out of a photograph might take on more signficance in an animation. Often insisting on the integrity of acrylic hues, he rarely mixes more than three colors at once, frequently overlaying his marks to create the illusion of three-dimensional space.
During his residency, Olivier sought to push his work further to abstraction, moving away from a narrative or film language toward a more painterly approach. Studying the work of American abstract expressionists such as Helen Frankenthaler, an artist who poured thinned paint directly on larger than life-sized canvases on the floor in her Color Field works, Olivier similarly engaged in a process of coaxing acrylic paint to spread and drip in brilliantly hued pools, more characteristic in watercolor. “I took my inspiration for the colors I used from just biking the city and looking at all the brightly colored buildings,” he explains. “San Antonio is very much in there.”
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Composed from reworked expressionist paintings, Cycle is magnified and projected on three 7.3 x 12.3-foot screens, a scale that echoes Frankenthaler’s large canvases. Enveloping the gallery, vast opaque and translucent fields of color move like a river across the screens. Olivier’s triple-channel projection begins with a cityscape that shifts into abstraction, depicting a shifting and non-linear space, interplaying elements of the pieces that were his point of origin. The looping 14-minute animation depicts pooling paint, color saturation, and the occasional errant droplet or painterly brush mark to recall the waves, ribbons, and swaths of color in fluid movement. Like in an abstract expressionist painting, the subject of Cycle becomes the gesture and application of paint. Floating amorphous shapes suggest drifting characters. As a hybrid of painting and cinema, the work further shifts the emphasis from narrative to abstraction, highlighting color, elemental mark making, and causing painterly gestures to assume leading roles.