Ever since getting his Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School earlier this year, Oli Epp has been actively producing new work, constantly getting recognition through awards, scholarships and prizes. He recently took a residency with Espositivo in Madrid, where he produced a series of new paintings that are playing with graphic and painterly surfaces, creating somewhat of an optical illusion.
During his 25 day stay in the Spanish capital, the London-based artist painted a series of paintings on both canvas and panel, responding to observations from his journey. From flying in on EasyJet to driving around in an Uber, these pieces are continuing the ongoing body of work that presents a humorous take on unremarkable, everyday events. Mixing the graphic, vector-like approach with satirized classic portraiture format, the paintings are Epp's reflections on human interaction in the post digital age—isolated, featureless figures adorned with branded clothing paired up with objects that are important to consumption and communication.
When asked about any particular experiences that stood out during his visit, Epp says "I was in particularly taken by the permanent collections in the museums in Madrid. The work in both the Prado and the Reina Sofia was really impressive. The Velasquez's paintings felt so relevant to my own work as on close inspection I learned one of his painterly tricks. In a few of his paintings there is an illusion taking place where your eye is tricked into thinking that the pattern follows the form of the fabric but in fact the pattern remains flat but it's only the shadow that suggests the form. This was great for me to learn as I'm always thinking about flatness and realism and how I can layer them in my paintings. Another show that I responded to was the Giorgio de Chirico's exhibition at the Caixa Forum. His mannequin paintings really resonated with me." Prolific to begin with, British artist found the residency program to be very motivating "I was a lot more productive! It was the amazing having 24 hour access to the studio at Espositivo which was centrally based in red light district, so I ended up working from 9am to 1am most days."
Sharing the space with other creatives was another highlight for Epp. "It was an honor to work alongside Arno Beck for the month. He's also a post digital painter, and one I really respect. We both shared a lot of our tips and techniques with each other. It was also great to have the director of the project Ivan on hand to bounce ideas off and he would also arrange events, shows and opportunities for us to connect us with the art scene in Madrid."
text by Sasha Bogojev
Epp has recently been selected as a Finalist for the Contemporary Vision’s 8 Exhibition at Beers, and has a handful of group shows lined up, as well as a two person show with Liam Fallon at Rod Barton. On top of that, he’ll be preparing his first solo show at Semiose Galerie in Paris, which will be taking place in May of 2018.