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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Don’t miss your chance to win a once in a lifetime experience to visit John Olsen’s studio and have lunch with the artist.

Enter the Newcastle Art Gallery’s raffle to be one of 6 lucky winners.

Details below.

home-with-dogsJohn Olsen by Hugh Stewart

From the gallery’s website:

‘With less than three weeks to go before the opening of the exhibition, JOHN OLSEN: The City’s Son, at the Newcastle Art Gallery, the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation has announced a special opportunity for the people of Newcastle to be involved in this unique venture – a collaboration between the artist, the Gallery and Foundation and the city which was his childhood home and inspiration.

This is your chance to be one of only six successful ticket holders to be a guest at John Olsen’s studio in the Southern Highlands to meet the artist, have a peek into his studio and enjoy lunch together. This is a rare opportunity indeed. Only one hundred tickets are being made available to the public and to Foundation and Art Gallery Society members.

The tickets can be purchased on the Foundation’s website or at the Gallery.

The ticket price of $250 includes transport, refreshments along the way, and exclusive access to John Olsen and his work. The 6 winners will be announced at the opening of the exhibition JOHN OLSEN: The City’s Son on 4th November 2016. The studio visit is scheduled for early February 2017.

Click here to buy a ticket from their website.

This will be a unique opportunity to see John Olsen, an iconic Australian artist, and Newcastle’s son.

All Proceeds will assist the Foundation’s fundraising campaign to purchase the work The river is a strong brown God 2016, which John Olsen is creating especially for this exhibition. Let’s make sure it has pride of place in our Newcastle Art Gallery.

100 tickets to be sold. Raffle to be drawn by John Olsen on Friday 4th November 2016 at the Newcastle Art Gallery at 6.30pm. Winning ticket holders will be notified by phone or e-mail.’

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Rex Irwin:

Finally I will retire on the 30 October after 4 years with Olsen Irwin and 40 years with Rex Irwin Art Dealer.  Most of the artists that came with me to Olsen Irwin will continue to exhibit with the gallery, which will now be known as Olsen.

 I would like to thank Tim and Katrina for making my stay at the gallery fun, stimulating and occasionally exasperating (for all of us) I intend to keep the association with Tim and will, from time to time, organize an exhibition at the gallery.

 I would like to thanks all the artists with whom I have been involved over the years for the delight of our journey together and to my clients, many of whom have become dear friends, I thank you for your support, generosity and the occasional kick in the bum, which I’m sure I needed!

 After all these years of changing exhibitions, changing fashion and changing prices I’m in for one last change – but I have no idea what that will be.

 ‘ Plus ça change ’ but I hope not, ‘ plus c’est la même chose.’


Tim Olsen:

It has been a great privilege to work with Rex. He has not only brought much to the gallery, but also the staff and artists who came to continue working with him.  It should not be underestimated how much Rex has contributed to the Australian art scene at large. Exhibitions normally reserved for institutions with artists like David Hockney, Henry Moore and Frank Auerbach to only mention a few.  He has also nurtured and enhanced the reputations and careers of many Australian artists in the aura of these masters. He represents a great eye, a scholarship and a sophistication normally only reserved for Northern Hemisphere galleries. No one else will emulate Rex’s courage and astuteness and the Australian art world will be poorer for his retirement.


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Photography is still art in the age of the smartphone

Review of Australian and International Contemporary Photography exhibition
Saffron Howden, The Sydney Morning Herald

Olsen Irwin gallery in Woollahra, in the city’s eastern suburbs, has embarked on its first major exhibition of contemporary photography, taking in the work of artists from Australia and around the world.

'The Creek'  is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world.

The Creek’ is an exploration of the informal rites of passage created by young people in relationship with the natural world. Photo: Tamara Dean

Odd Flippers, 1984

Odd Flippers, 1984 Photo: Jon Lewis

From the Hollywood movie stars you never knew you knew to the pitching currents of local artist Bartolomeo Celestino’s works, the exhibition reflects the eclectic nature of modern photographic art.

I’ve represented photographers over the years, but this is the first time I’ve tried to curate a collection of photographs from all over the world,” gallery director Tim Olsen told Fairfax Media.

Olsen said he was introduced to a number of photographers in New York earlier this year and the show gathered pace from there.

He was particularly taken with Jill Greenberg’s monkey portraits, which depict various celebrity monkeys and apes that feature in films and television series.

view the article     View exhibition


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John Olsen | Book Launch and Signing

Darleen Bungey has written a landmark biography of John Olsen, Australia’s greatest living artist. From his childhood up until today, ‘John Olsen: An Artist’s Life’ explores the life and qualities of an artist who was determined to depict the Australian landscape in a way that had never been seen before.

“From a child who was never taken to an art gallery, who learnt how to draw from comics, we come to see the famous artist in the black beret, the writer and poet, the engaging public speaker, the bon vivant – whose life has been defined by an absolute need to paint.”

The artist himself will be present at Olsen Irwin gallery for the launch and book signing. Copies of the new book will be available for purchase while many examples of John’s work will be hung on the walls.

You can purchase this publication through the Olsen Irwin website by clicking here

John Olsen Book Signing
Thursday November 6, 6-8pm
Olsen Irwin Gallery
63 Jersey Rd, Woollahra, Sydney, 2025



Fred Williams | Landscape Themes of the Seventies

An exhibition of Paintings and Gouaches from the estate of the the late Australian artist Fred Williams opens today At Olsen Irwin. ‘Landscape Themes of the Seventies’ exhibits the remarkable talents of an artist who revolutionised the way we look at the Australian landscape. His touch, his originality and most importantly his vision for a new vocabulary of landscape painting can all be seen in the works on the walls.

The gouaches and paintings in this exhibition demonstrate Williams’ strength as a painter, pairing his knowledge of abstraction with a strong affinity for the places he depicted. Hot, cold, dry or wet, Williams’ brush would record with both accuracy and innovation. Murray, Mildura II painted in 1978, faithfully documents the roots of trees along the river bank, in a year in which the water level was so low the roots of the great river gums were exposed. Kosciusko 1 (1976) chronicles the icy atmosphere and blustery sky while You Yangs outlook I (1975) captures the heat of the midday sun.

These paintings not only reveal the significance of paint to Williams’ vision of Australia, but also the act of painting itself.

Fred Williams: Landscape Themes of the Seventies
22 October – 16 November
Olsen Irwin
63 Jersey Road, Woollahra, NSW, 2025


Fred Williams, You Yangs Outlook I, Gouache on Arches paper, 1975, 59.5 x 79cm


Fred Williams, The Murray, Mildura II, 1978, Gouache on Arches paper, 57 x 76cm


Fred Williams, Kosciusko 1, 1976, oil on canvas, 96.5 x 198.2cm


Chris Langlois | Studio Visit

On a recent visit to Chris Langlois‘ studio we previewed his most recent work for the upcoming exhibition at Olsen Irwin, Weather Systems. Greeted by Langlois’ two bumbling pugaliers, Langlois shows us to his studio, adjoining his home in Sydney’s northern beaches. The works for the upcoming show are vast land-, sea- and skyscapes, meticulously painted in Langlois’ signature style.

“These paintings depict landscape that is emptied of persons and his objects, a world altered and neglected by man, an inverse romanticism. They are either placed in or on the edge of the emptiness or show it viewed from afar and explore the nothingness that depicts space. I prefer a landscape that is meloncholic, reflective of the human mind, a space that I create and that can be solitarily explored.

Painting for me involves landscape and I explore that theme, however, my use of landscape is not to depict place, rather, a tool or vehicle to draw the viewers’ own relationship with place. My paintings generally are cinematic, empty and vague so as to engulf the viewer. I wish to effect the viewer in the same way music washes over you and leads you through a maze of experience, not a literal journey, not a story, but an attempt to bring the viewer to an emotional state.

This exhibition is a continuation of those themes that I have explored, of painting landscape and depicting the space and the effect it has on us.”

LangloisStudio_May2014_6LangloisStudio_May2014_7About the artist:

Chris Langlois (b. 1969) is admired for his exquisite land and seascapes that are often described as embodying the sublime. Born in Gosford, he went on to study painting and drawing at the University of Newcastle. Langlois has widely exhibited since 1989 and has been a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on a number of occasions. In 1990 he was joint winner the Maitland Tertiary Art Prize at Maitland Art Gallery. In 2010 he won the prestigious Stan & Maureen Duke Gold Coast Art Prize at the Gold Coast Art Gallery in Queensland, and earlier that same year was runner up of the Tattersall’s Landscape Art prize.

Over a 14 month period during 2013-2014, a major survey that exhibits the highlights over a ten year period between 2003 to 2013 is touring regional galleries throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Points in Time features more than 30 works exploring Chris’s signature themes of the romantic, melancholy and beauty. Accompanying the exhibition is a 112 page book that illustrates the same period in more detail as well as essays by the curators Katherine Roberts and Simon Gregg.

His works form part of many important public and private collections both in Australia and internationally. Chris currently lives and works in Avalon, NSW.    LangloisStudio_May2014_9 LangloisStudio_May2014_10 LangloisStudio_May2014_11 LangloisStudio_May2014_12 LangloisStudio_May2014_13 LangloisStudio_May2014_16Chris Langlois
Weather Systems
20 August – 7 September 2014

Olsen Irwin
63 Jersey Road
Woollahra NSW 2025


Olsen Irwin | Melbourne Art Fair

Join us at stand E107 for the 2014 Melbourne Art Fair. Olsen Irwin will exhibit a solo showing of Guy Maestri’s new work, as well as a group show of select works.

The fair begins with a vernissage tonight, Wednesday 13 August at 6pm. The fair will then run from Thursday 14 August to Sunday 17 August. Day passes and tickets for the vernissage can be purchased here on the Melbourne Art Fair website.

View Olsen Irwin’s exhibition of select works here.
View Guy Maestri’s new works here.


Peter Booth, Drawing 2000 (man in cart and standing man), 2000, mixed media on paper, 13.5 x 29.5cm


Stephen Bird, Adam and Eve with Eyes, ceramic, 30 x 43cm


Stephen Ormandy, Look both ways, Oil on linen, 112 x 112cm


Alan Jones, Painting 122 (Dad), Acrylic on polyester, 66.5 x 56.5cm


Elisabeth Kruger, Afternoon walk, oil on linen, 51 x 41cm


Guy Maestri, Feral, oil on linen, 97 x 112cm

Olsen Irwin
Melbourne Art Fair
Stand E107
Royal Exhibition Building
Carlton VIC 3053

Wednesday 13 August 2014
6pm – 10pm
General Opening Times
Thursday 14 August 2014
11am – 6pm
Friday 15 August 2014
11am – 8pm
Saturday 16 August 2014
10am – 6pm
Sunday 17 August 2014
10am – 5pm


Sophie Cape | In conversation with Richard Morecroft

Watch Sophie Cape in conversation with broadcaster Richard Morecroft discussing the exhibition Shadows of White – From Shaolin to Everest. The event was hosted on Saturday 19 July 2014, the final day of Sophie Cape’s 2014 exhibition at Olsen Irwin Works on Paper, Small Paintings and Sculpture.


Tim Olsen | Switzer Super Report | Archibald provides platform for investing

“The Archibald provides the greatest platform to start collecting and investing in Australian art.” – Tim Olsen, Switzer Super Report

Every year The Archibald Prize shines a light on the Australian art world. The entry scandals, big name celebrities and abundant media attention provides an opportunity for the general public to be swept up into the often ignored and secluded world of art. Olsen Irwin director Tim Olsen discusses the opportunities The Archibald Prize offers as a platform for investing.

“It’s not only the award that brings prestige to the winning artist but to all the artists whose works are hung in the rarefied environment and it provides a who’s who of the artist’s currently making art in Australia.” – Tim Olsen, Switzer Super Report