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Olivia Longstaff

Arcimboldo / Gallery / Olivia Longstaff

Olivia Longstaff’s new paintings in Tension are a snapshot of a young artist finding momentum, in a meaningful engagement with the stuff of paint, the tactile, sensuous matter-of-factness of it. She explores the way it moves, and the way its colour and character can dramatically transform with the simple manipulation of its physical characteristics.

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The deep dense darks of impasted paint in mass-tone, give way to subtle, diaphanous veils of transparent colour when diluted with her flowing liquid turpentine technique. This dichotomy is playfully explored through the tension of deliberate, mechanical edges yielding to the eroding qualities of the vehicle as it moves the pigment according to its own momentum, to gravity, to time.

Clyfford Still said ‘The best works are often those with the fewest and simplest elements... until you look at them a little more, and things start to happen’. Olivia Longstaff’s paintings have the confidence to allow a little to say a lot.

Narbi Price, January 2019

Artists Statement

This series of work is a response to place. The constant argument between what’s meant to be and what’s not. The work deals with the rivalry between planned and random growth. Looking into the complex set of tensions and overlaps between humans and nature. Highlighting the competition for control of an environment that’s constantly under threat by natural processes and the passing of time.

I use thick blocks of bold colour that dominate the canvas, that are in argument with the gentle flow of the pigment that is carried down the canvas by the use of turpentine. The turpentine corrodes the sharp edges of the block shape, undermining its strength and solidity. This technique allowed me to create an unavoidable tension between the deliberate industrial lines and the organic flow of turpentine that intersects and breaks down the line.

Olivia Longstaff

* 1/8/1997

Olivia Longstaff was born in England, North Yorkshire (1997), later when she was 13 years old she moved to Brunei with her family, where she developed a fascination for both the diversity in culture and climate. In 2016 she graduated from Fettes college, Edinburgh and started studying a B.A. for Fine art at Newcastle University. The course is currently ranked 1. st in the UK for Art and Design, and the city is one of the major art capitals within the UK.

She is influenced by the work of German artist Anselm Kiefer. The monumental scale of his works, combined with his heavy application of paint and use of mixed media, give dramatic and moving results. It is this that inspired much of Olivia's early work that dealt with surface, incorporating materials such as sand, shellac and acrylic paint on MDF rather than canvas, creating a more industrial dynamic within the work. Since then she have been exploring the physical characteristics of Oil paint by manipulating its physical properties.

Her most recent solo exhibition was held in 2018 at the Biscuit Factory Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne, entitled ‘Materials under Stress’. The collection of work explored the physical limitations of materials by altering both their form and function.

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