Richard Heller Gallery, Suite B5A
Exhibition Dates: March 16 - April 27, 2019
Private Reception: March 16, 5 - 8 p.m.
Richard Heller Gallery is proud to present, Contactless, the U.S. solo debut of London-based artist, Oli Epp.
By Aindrea Emelife
Oli Epp’s newest body of work explores a Neo-Futurist aesthetic as Epp continues his artistic practice. The previous narrative of human relationships, technology and commerce is further elaborated on, incorporating new symbols and ideas with an intense Neo-Noir lighting style. Fast culture, commerce, technology and the dangers of security and identity are investigated further and seen as both comment and caution. Characters morph into amoeba cell-esque forms mimicking the Nokia Snake mobile game that captured the attentions of Nineties youth, now replaced by high-definition CGI games and apps on screens attached to the hands of children all over the Western World. Epp makes references to synthetic biology and the movie "Blade Runner" with his new series of large, luminous neon canvases that glow with a Flavin-like intensity. The pop culture infused paintings have a poisonous, artificial feel - a nod to Ed Paschke, one of Epp’s favourite Chicago imagists - that is immediately seductive, emphasized further by Epp’s signature clean lines and flat surface. The obsessive-compulsive desire for repetition and flatness is illustrated with symbols that are recurrent throughout and reproduced with succession with a motive of evoking purpose and play. The paintings evoke laughter and contemplation within the same breath; the works speak of a tragic, cheeky observation of a man-meets-technology universe.
There is a satisfaction in order and the Post Digital Pop purity of mark making which contrasts the dastardly scenes of online anxiety, digital obesity and the guilty pleasures of both. Objects - video cameras, vape pens, sunglasses et al. - are isolated and float in space; they are as lonely as the faceless characters in his work and the social autism that Epp simulates. This creates a conceptual coherence as the anonymity of the subject mimics the anonymity of the characters depicted. Social isolation is a recurrent theme in Epp’s work, as the artist creates illusions to Millennial culture, a demographic that has been described as the ‘loneliest generation’. Epp’s ardent sense of humour reflects the impact that consumerism has on society with a digital take on everyday experiences. Public, private and secret moments are investigated under Epp’s lens, shining light on the taboo, under-represented observations of modern life (e.g. sunbed abusers, germaphobes and internet trolls).
The title Contactless is derived by the artist's act of painting, use of airborne paint and limited touch, as well as our fast-consumptive culture and inherent developed detachment afforded to us by technological innovation and the addiction – whether it is digitised identity or food delivery apps – that ensues. However, with the ever-developing modes of creation, there are moments where the hand is incredibly present with a strong emotional interaction and Epp’s lighthearted humour. This series of paintings is inspired by the darker side of everyday life, which Epp employs with a villainous colour palette, riddled with neuroses and undercut with jest, twists and turns. Epp’s work demonstrates an understanding of perceived agoraphobia to a hyper-digital world but also a celebration of the anecdotal experience it creates.
About the Artist:
Oli Epp, born in 1994, lives and works in London, England. Recent exhibitions include his May 2018 solo show, Epiphanies, at Semiose Galerie, Paris, France, and group exhibitions, Exceptional, at Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, England, and Distilled De Stijl, TW Fine Art, Brisbane, Australia. Recent press includes articles in Juxtapoz, Sleek Magazine, Monopol Magazine and Le Monde. His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England and The Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection, U.K. (as well as various, significant, private collections around the world).
2014-17 BA (Hons) Fine Art, City & Guilds of London Art School (First Class)
2013-14 Foundation Diploma, City & Guilds of London Art School