Through expansive vivid color, fragmented line, and diversity in scale, these paintings portray the self in myriad ways. Combining realism with abstraction, layering and constructing, Olson balances the empirical characteristics of the sitter with a search for the spiritual.
There is a mask-like or illusory quality to many of these paintings. From the solid fields of colour to the floral looping lines of face-paint to the pictograms on a tattooed back, Olson covers or conceals the identity of each sitter: the mask framing the architecture of the face. In this new work, he plays with what is painted, what is described and what can be layered over each image. The figure, and by extension, the persona of each sitter, becomes something in the making, in revision, in-flux and open to reinterpretation.
Surprisingly, each painting still communicates a clear psychology and likeness of the sitter. The work finds parallels with contemporary technology and current events yet the paintings also exude a grounding calmness, something as ancient and timeless as the drawing of the face.