An exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by ERIK OLSON

“…anyone who wants to see the earth properly, must keep [oneself] at a necessary distance from it.” -The Baron in the Trees, 1957

March 2 - April 14, 2018

Calgary born artist, Erik Olson, debuts his latest series of paintings and sculptures in a solo-exhibition, “In the Trees”, at VIVIANEART. The central theme of this exhibition develops from Olson’s interest in the natural environment as a site of refuge and resistance.

In 2017, Olson undertook an artist residency on the coast of the Ligurian Sea in north western Italy. Having read Italo Calvino’s novel, The Baron in the Trees (1957), he coincidentally found himself in the very landscape where this novel was set. A utopian metaphor for independence, the novel follows the arboreal life of a defiant 19th century noble youth who resolved to live entirely above ground.

Upon returning to his current home in Düsseldorf, Germany, Olson learned of a protest group attempting to stop the destruction of the Hambach Forest from open pit mining. The protest took the form of continuous occupation of the treetops in the threatened forest in order to protect the area. Like the Baron, these protesters moved to the trees in an act of resistance. The treehouse protester community, far from utopian in its own impacts, overlooks a cleared expanse of the vast coal mine.

“In the Trees” renders the artist’s reflections on a withdrawal back to nature. The resulting paintings and sculptures of the exhibition depict provisional dwellings raised in the trees, their inhabitants and the surrounding plants and animals in characteristically vivid colour.

Powerful dendritic forms and veiled views present multiple points of view that layer space, colour and pattern. Olson’s work captures the beauty of natural details overlooked, or altogether non-existent, in the sparse openness of a consumptive landscape.

Erik Olson graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver (2007) and attended the acclaimed art academy, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (2016). Olson has been the subject of solo exhibitions in major cities across Canada and internationally in Europe and the United States.