©2017-2018 by Reciprocal art magazine

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    Oli Epp

    You just recently graduated from City & Guilds of London Art School, congratulations! Do you have any plans moving forward?

     

    Thank you so much! My big news is that I’m having my first solo Show in Paris next year at Semiose Galerie. I’m really excited to be working with the gallery as one of their exhibiting artists, as I really value their ethos. A lot of the artists they work with have themes of subversion, humour, and the everyday running through their work. It’s going to be a great show. Since graduating I’ve also been awarded awarded the Zsuzsi Roboz Scholarship at Morley College, where I’ll be involved in a mentoring programme as well as courses to develop my skills with iPad drawing, ceramics, screen printing, advanced photography, Adobe software and more! It’s really important to me to keep that critical dialogue around my practice as well as pushing my skill base. I want to treat this year like an MA of sorts. In November, I am doing the Espositivo residency in Madrid for 25 days alongside Tess Williams and Arno Beck - two artists I really respect. So it’s a really busy year ahead, but I’m working hard in the studio full time, even on Sundays… ;)

    Carpe Diem, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 130cm x 170cm, 2017

    What makes one of your paintings more successful than another? Is there certain criteria, either formally or conceptually that you strive to meet within each piece?


     

    I think my most interesting paintings I make are the ones I’ve been thinking about for months. My latest piece is called ‘Supporters’; I’ve been revising that work in my head everyday for the past 6 weeks. It features a  big bald headed football fan in amongst a crowd, cursing at the opposition after a football match. An unsupportive supporter… So to begin with I find that this sort of humorous tension could work for a painting. But then in tandem with that it’s crucial to find the right physical make-up to communicate that tension. This involves lots of consideration of materials, form, colour and composition. When it all comes together in harmony, ironically I’m able to make a painting, which expresses dischord and social unrest, for instance.

    In your artist statement, you mention how our real and digital lives are merged.

    You have quite a large following- both digitally and in terms of collectors. Do you find that social media influences your practice?

     

    Social media has been massively influential to my career as an artist. My work talks about identity (or the lack thereof) and judgement in the post-digital age. I display visual triggers, that can be read like points on a map, but just the bare minimum for you to relate to the character under discussion. Instagram has has been instrumental to some of my recent successes. Both Semiose Galerie and Annarumma Gallery came across my work through it, both of which have offered me solo shows off the back of my Degree Show paintings. However, in terms of my ideas, almost all of them come through my observations and lived experiences.

     

    In addition to the practical sense in which Instagram has propelled my career, it is also conceptually integral to the ideas I explore. My work is very much about the way we interact through digital mediation and I use a range of traditional and new techniques to merge the material reality of the surface of the canvas with the supposed superficiality of an imagistic culture on screens.

    Supporters, oil, acrylic and spraypaint on canvas, 150cm x 182cm, 2017

    Aftersun, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 150cm x 200cm, 2017

    Biggest Stick, oil, acrylic and spraypaint on canvas, 2017

    You start out with line drawings to sketch out your idea before translating them into paintings. Do you find that the final paintings often stay true to your original sketch? Or is it more of a transformative process, where change and re-evaluation is welcome?

     

    The paintings never stay true to the original drawing; although my work is heavily design based I allow for a lot of discovery when making. I’m constantly evaluating and reevaluating.  My paintings are constantly twisting. The magical moments for me are the intuitive decisions that happen when I’m in front of the paintings. They’re the ones that make me feel good.

    What were you making before your current body of work, and how did it inform your more recent paintings?

     

    When I started art school I was drawing vigorously in these little sketchbooks. Documenting my thoughts and observations in simple lines. I used to get really bashful when sharing my sketchbooks with people; some of my drawings are really raw but they have a real freshness about them, which I love. However, I spent most of my time at art school painting ‘around’ my drawings. Now I’m tackling them head on, and they are now my most recent work.