Irene Hardwicke Olivieri, ‘Restoration’, 2013, Robert Berman Gallery

Irene was born and raised on the southern tip of Texas, spending much of her childhood on the banks of the Rio Grande River, where her father, a farmer, grew onions and cabbage. At 17, she moved to Brazil and lived as an exchange student in Rio de Janeiro. She went on to catch a ride on a cargo boat and travel up the Amazon river, eventually making her way back home through south and central America. She studied art in Mexico and Austin Texas, then moved to New York where she received an M.A. from NYU. Irene worked as a gardener/lecturer at the Cloisters and at the New York Botanical Garden, where she created drawings of neo tropical palms and the insects that pollinate them. She now lives off the grid in the high desert of central Oregon. She paints and draws, makes things out of bones, raises caterpillars, waterlilies and succulents and keeps a dermestid beetle colony. Irene is one of the founding members of the activist arm of TrapFree Oregon, a non-profit dedicated to banning animal trapping.

About Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

Irene Hardwicke Olivieri is known for enigmatic, colorful oil paintings on wooden panels that depict nude females in fantastical landscapes, teeming with wildlife. Many of her scenes are semi-autobiographical—in Devil’s Trumpet (2009), for example, a young woman sits serenely, oblivious to the devil trumpeting in her ear, a scene inspired by advice she once received, that “when you worry it’s like having the devil’s trumpet in your ear.” Depicting “private fantasies,” as one critic described, Olivieri’s paintings often paraphrase minutely printed religious texts, worked into her fantastical compositions amongst rich symbolism and stylistic references to Surrealism and folk art.

American, b. 1959, Texas, based in Bend, Oregon