OLIVIA WILEMAN - EXPLORING THE ABSTRACT

Published: 28 May 2022


Olivia Wileman is an artist based in Nottingham. Upon graduating in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University in 2016, she has continued to produce and exhibit work around the UK.

Thompson's are thrilled to be showcasing Olivia's debut feature show in our Harpenden gallery. This body of work has been made over the last few months from the artist's Nottingham studio, and is a celebration of colour and form, an exploration of physicality - we hope you agree the results are sublime and successful, especially for a young artist. We are excited to see where her career goes.

Olivia's brightly coloured, vibrant, abstract oil paintings utilise a combination of colour, layering and mark making, focusing on creating a balance between forms and gestural marks. She encompasses collaging techniques with materials such as oil, paper and pieces of raw canvas shredded into shapes.

'Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect.'

With a background in graphic design, Olivia finds this informs her approach to painting, in terms of thinking in colour and shape and creating a balanced composition. She often employs collage and texture on top of the works. This multimedia perspective derives from her work as an animator, which symbiotically feeds into her painting.

These paintings, although static, emulate feelings of movement, like stop motion freeze frames that could come to life. The titles all suggest forms of movement; 'Chasing', 'Slip' and 'Dissipate'. All terminology used in and asscociated with animation.

As the work develops, she explores the physicalness of the paint and the expression that can be achieved through mark making, gesture and texture. The colours dominate the subject - either in big, bold blocks - or play off more subtle tones with bright flashes of paint.

You can also feel the influence of her father, the acclaimed painter, Peter Wileman, through the use of colour, abstraction and texture, but there is still a signature and refined visual language that is very much her own. A keen eye for colour and love of painting runs through the Wileman family as many of her siblings have creative careers. 

Over the course of this show, I have had many conversations about abstract art, and I always welcome any opportunity to open up this age old, post modern discussion. There is that everpresent 'I could do that' or 'my five year old could make that' attitude. Non figurative art makes you look deeper and there is always much more than meets the eye that they may not immediately realise. This does not come naturally to everyone.

If there is no immediate narrative, people sometimes shy away because they don't 'get' it or they may often think there is little artistic skill involved. For me, it's the contrary. There is just as much skill (if not more) in creating a successful piece of abstract painting or sculpture, as there is in a realist or figurative painting. This isn't to say that I don't appreciate figurative art, or that people who do are wrong in anyway, they are simply different points of view and one of the the joys of working in this industry!

This a rejuvenating and fresh collection of works, with engaging simplicity, coupled with visual sophistication and considered composition. Even if you may not appreciate abstract painting, there is still something comforting, yet energising, and aesthetically pleasing.