Zoe Young wins Portia Geach Memorial Award 2018

Congratulations to Zoe Young who has won the $30,000 Portia Geach Memorial Award for 2018.

The judging panel included: Samantha Meers, Art Gallery of New South Wales trustee; Natalie Wilson, curator of Australian and Pacific art at AGNSW; and director of S.H Ervin Gallery Jane Watters.

“The Portia Geach is vital for female artists across the country and has provided a much-needed platform to display the work of young, emerging artists alongside that of established painters whose work I greatly admire. The award gives me the support to progress my artistic practice and I look forward to creating my next body of work.” – Zoe Young

Works by all 50 finalists are on view at the S.H. Ervin Gallery until 2 December. 

See the winning work below.


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A Congratulations to our artists

OLSEN Gallery would like to congratulate NICHOLAS HARDING , JULIAN MEAGHER and FIONA MCMONAGLE who were all selected as finalists in the 2018 Archibald Prize , as well as JOHN OLSEN who is a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize.

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Julian Meagher_TheDesignFiles

Julian Meagher spoke with The Design Files about the inspiration behind his newest exhibition Inlet/Oulet, on view at Olsen Gallery from Wednesday, March 21st.


Read the full article here: http://thedesignfiles.net/2018/03/inlet-outlet-by-julian-meagher/


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Butt Naked II | Alan Jones

Congratulations to Alan Jones and the Sydney Art Quartet for the success of the Butt Naked Salon II at The Yellow House.


To read about the show, please click the link here.

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Camie Lyons | Out on a Limb

Camie Lyons speaks with Maria Stolja about her practice and technique for her upcoming show, Out on a Limb, at OLSEN Gallery.

Exhibition runs from 1 – 19 November

Opening Saturday 4 November 2 – 4 pm

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11 FEBRUARY – 5 MARCH 2017

Opening reception Saturday 11 February 2-4pm at OLSEN Annexe, 74 Queen Street Woollahra Sydney

This February, OLSEN Annexe will present New York Nowhere featuring artists Alphachanneling, Jay Miriam and Jesse Edwards, curated by Emerald Gruin.

New York Nowhere bridges the artistic boundary between New York and Sydney in preparation for the upcoming 2017 opening of the OLSEN GRUIN gallery space in New York. These three New York artists explore the female form in altered and corresponding ways.

Alphachanneling’s sensual compositions caused a stir in the artist’s first March 2016 solo exhibition at New York’s Jack Hanley Gallery. Referencing ancient, tantric, Taoist, Hindu and Buddhist tropes, Jerry Saltz exclaimed “there’s an outsider-ish Henri Rousseau quality… Sigmar Polke’s easiness of line and simplicity.” Alphachanneling describes the work as “a devotional prayer to the feminine principal.”

Erotic and graceful, Alphachanneling’s lithe compositions contrast with Jay Miriam’s bold painterly strokes and ascetic and heavy female form. Her work draws the viewer into a secret inquiry of her world – abject limbs that are wide open, expressions that are carnal and raw. Miriam’s July 2016 solo exhibition at Half Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was widely successful for the young painter of twenty-six.

Jesse Edwards is a downtown New York based fine art oil painter with Vito Schnabel Gallery. Edwards’ juxtaposes his thuggish persona and illicit subject matter with the polished application of old master techniques such as underpainting and extensive glazing to bring forward his vision of the All American woman. Edwards’ fascination with card playing and still life composition is superbly illustrated in his compositions of Queen of Hearts and pinup playing cards.

From top: Alphachanneling, P U S S Y- Colour Version (2016), pencil on paper, 45.7 x 30.4cm. Jay Miriam, Waiting in Line for Ice Cream (2016), oil on linen, 137.1 x 101.6cm. Jesse Edwards, Cardhous with Nude (2015), oil on linen, 137.1 x 121.9cm.

OLSEN GRUIN will open in early 2017, situated in the heart of SoHo at 211 Elizabeth Street, New York City, NY.

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This December, international, post-conceptual artists Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz will be showing at OLSEN.

Both based in New York City, this exhibition will be the first time both artist have featured in an Australian gallery.


Jonathan Horowitz slides down the surface of things. He engages with the material of everyday life (from celebrities and celebrity causes to politics and philosophy, from terrorism to the cola wars). He has consistently found incisive metaphors for contemporary society and presented them in complex and rich installations, videos, photographs, paintings and sculpture. This year he was honoured with a Brant Foundation show Occupy Greenwich, which provided a timely reflection on politics in America. In 2009 Horowitz also had an important solo show at MOMA PS1, which cemented him as an important voice in socially engaged and critical art.

Horowitz’s use of the portrait is particularly interesting. ‘Portrait’ is perhaps a misnomer, however, because of its emphasis on the art genre. Horowitz plays in an almost anthropological way with visual culture and has astutely seen that the celebrity portraits, sculptures, portraits hanging on the wall in town halls are less artworks and actually what they were traditionally called – effigies. There is a ‘image magic’ in a portrait hanging in the public hall. Portraits speak to us from the past, they give us advice, they exhort us to action; they are not merely images on the wall.

When Horowitz placed portraits of the 9/11 terrorists surreptitiously around the galleries of the Whitney Biennale they were not merely images but also almost like voodoo dolls, secreting some traumatic power. When he placed portraits of all the presidents in the Brant Foundation he activated the power of the Presidential office, creating a secular Versailles as a stage for his political interventions. In the major work Hillary Clinton is a Person Too, we see another effigy. Larger than life, in bronze, Clinton is at once infantilised and at the same time given the authority of a queen.

Horowitz is aware that the context of this work’s origins has now shifted, but in interesting ways. Like any bronze public sculpture, our context can shift the way we see the sacred figure represented. In the context of the 2016 presidential election the failure present in this piece is more palpable. In 2008 the piece may have seemed like a consolation prize (for her loss to Barack Obama) but in 2016 it seems to highlight her Achilles heel: a proportion of the electorate saw her as an over-eager, overqualified, and entitled class captain.

The main body of work in this exhibition is Self Portrait in the Mirror. This series is based on repainting Lichtenstein’s mirror works, and they are a joke on a joke. Lichtenstein was already riffing on Abstract Expressionism’s obsession with painterly surface. He painted an image of a mirror as if it was printed as a cheap cartoon. Using stencils and careful masking Lichtenstein replicated the quality of a cheap, benday dot print. While in a Lichtenstein the painterly quality is still present, the work eschews the great gesture of the genius artist.

horowitz18079Jonathan Horowitz, Self Portrait in Mirror #12 (2013), acrylic on linen, 61cm diameter, $POA

Horowitz to some extent reinstates the authorly hand. He paints and has others repaint the Lichtenstein, without any aids, and in doing so ‘dials up’ the painterly mistakes. The benday dots are now not perfect, the lines a little shaky. Shown in series the singularity of each rendition is even more palpable, as the series allows the viewer to immediately contrast the copy with another copy set beside it.

The paintings are not really images of mirrors. They embody a struggle in contemporary life: to insist on our individuality while at the same time following an imperative to conform to social values. This series is a perfect metonym for Horowitz’s practice as a whole, in that he re-presents the real, but in a way that highlights the invisible workings of power, ideology and societal belief, often with wit and slight of hand.

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This December, international, post-conceptual artists Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz will be showing at OLSEN.

Both based in New York City, this exhibition will be the first time both artist have featured in an Australian gallery.


Rob Pruitt is a major figure in the contemporary art scene in New York. He works in a broad spectrum of media, from sculpture, installation and print to painting and conceptual forays. Over the last twenty years his work has, by critical consensus, reached a new level of maturity and importance. His recent show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York), which included the series Suicide Paintings, was considered by Roberta Smith, the art critic for the New York Times, as “possibly the best of his career.”

The work in this exhibition particularly focuses on his painting practice through two major series: his signature Panda series (started in 2001) and the more recent Suicide Paintings. Because contemporary artists like Pruitt can choose to represent ideas in whichever way they choose, there is a conscious choice here to utilise painting as the frame. Because of this, Pruitt’s work has been characterised as post-conceptual painting, in that it is a form of painting that comes after the ‘anything goes’ of contemporary art. Post-conceptual painting holds in it the history and traditions of painting as well as the wit and ideas of conceptual art, minimalism and other approaches of late modernism.

pruitt18109Rob Pruitt, Suicide XCIII, acrylic on linen, 206 x 274cm, $POA

His signature series Panda clearly references Warhol’s serial approach to images. The longer Pruitt pursues this project the more thorough the conceptual serialism becomes. Warhol’s schtick was that everything was merely surface, and that paintings meant almost nothing; he used to insist that he had others at The Factory choose the subject matter and images for him. But critics have subsequently pointed to the more serious subject matter (riots, electric chairs, The Last Supper etc) to suggest that his work did mean something and was a critique of society at the time. In the end it is up to the viewer to decide whether his images are in earnest or ironic pastiche.

Pruitt’s Pandas seem to function in the same way, between kitsch and the serious politics of the Anthropocene. In interviews the artist has asserted the panda was his childhood favourite, a personal totem. The panda is cuddly, kind and bumbling, a friendly giant, that sits cross legged, like a scholar hermit, in bamboo groves. It is present in visual culture from Harajuku girl hair ties to the iconic logo of the World Wildlife fund. Pruitt has said that the panda is a reminder of what we are doing to our planet and how we threaten other life forms with our rapacious appetites for space and resources. The paintings sit provocatively somewhere in between direct political activism and the cute.

This equivocation drives the concept behind the Suicide Paintings, a very morbid title for such beauteous paintings. If there is a sense of finality in these works they are also completely hopeful, uplifting and intimate. They feel as if Kazimir Malevich had been asked to create a screen saver or Joseph Albers had been commissioned by Pantone, and yet lose none of painting’s ability to point towards the sublime. The colour is intense and overwhelming, and the series is frequently compared to Rothko’s religiosity or even Renaissance skies. And yet the works remain situated in the present, and the hand-painted gradient, the old form of paint on canvas, beautifully mediates our dehumanising digital age with our insistence on life’s meaning.

The use of painting, to these conceptual ends, recovers for the dry conceptual art of the seventies the power and constancy of beauty. In both these series beauty and aesthetic pleasure are a provocation to the materialists, that prefer dirty realness. Both series point towards possibilities of transcendence.


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New to OLSEN, Antony Gormley’s Settlement I from 2005 is now on show in the gallery space. Consisting of a series of bright mild steel blocks, the sculpture weighs 400kilos and stands 12.5 x 12.5 x 25mm, 25 x 25 x 50mm, 50 x 50 x 100mm & 100 x 100 x 200mm, 24 x 660 x 208.5cm (9.5 x 23.6 x 82.1in). Price on application.


From Antony Gormley’s website:

Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.

Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at Forte di Belvedere, Florence (2015); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). He has also participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986) and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). Permanent public works include the ANGEL OF THE NORTH (Gateshead, England), ANOTHER PLACE (Crosby Beach, England), INSIDE AUSTRALIA (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and EXPOSURE (Lelystad, The Netherlands) and CHORD (MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA). 

Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003.

Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950.   



Things already exist
Sculpture already exists

The job is to transform what exists in the outer world
by uniting it with the world of
sensation, imagination and faith.

Action can be confused with life.
Much of human life is hidden.
Sculpture, in stillness, can transmit what may not be seen.

My work is to make bodies into vessels
that both contain and occupy space.

Space exists outside the door and inside the head.

My work is to make human space in space.

Each work is a place between form and formlessness,
a time between origin and becoming.

A house is the form of vulnerability,
darkness is revealed by light.

My work is to make a place, free from knowledge,
free from history, free from nationality to be experienced freely.

In art there is no progress, only art.
Art is always for the future.

(Published in Antony Gormley: Five Works, Serpentine Gallery, London: Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1987)

View the work online here

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‘The Art of Dinosaur Designs’- an evening with gallery director Tim Olsen’s sister, Louise Olsen and gallery artist Stephen Ormandy.


Thursday 17 November at Buzo modern European, 3 Jersey Road, Woollahra.


Tickets available here

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