Oli Epp - color me, 2019
Oli Epp creates some amusing contemporary portraits, so synthetic, you might think they’ve stepped out of a screen, yet their minor obsessions remind us very much of our own.
Born in 1994, Oli Epp lives and works in London. His paintings are informed by his everyday experiences and observations. They are autobiographical; sometimes confessional, sometimes irreverent and frequently handled with a humorous sense of pathos. Oli Epp focuses on situations that either involve him, or others that he has witnessed, in public and private moments that pass by as unremarkable, at a glance.
But documenting these unreported tragedies in paint is, for him, an act of discovery. He wants his imagery to feel familiar to as many people as possible; to draw out the ridiculous comedy of certain shared rituals and behaviours, by economizing on the essence of the situation and creating simplified humanoid characters, which lend a sort of parody of the real world in the way that cartoons do. These avatars have oversized heads and are hermetically sealed by an absence of facial features, which is an exaggerated reflection on human interaction in the post digital age - these figures appear idiotically isolated, but adorned with earpieces, branded items of clothing and objects that are important to consumption and communication.
Oli Epp uses the visual language of branding and interplay between graphic and painterly surfaces to create optical confusion, echoing the way that our real and digital lives are merged.