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Olivia Longstaff's 'Precipice'

Precipice represents a break-away from a life spent working in monochrome. Vivid and bright, this series and the title of the show represent the risk, the stress and the mess connected with letting go of previous processes, of letting go of the safety of what is known in favour of what is yet to be discovered. 


Precipice is the inherent tipping point within the creation of a piece of work, where ‘just one more mark’, becomes one too many. 


Included in the presentation are a series of 10 works painted using oil on canvas, varying across three different scales. These works frame bold, gestural marks in contrasting colours. The paintings combine elements of rough built-up texture and grit with buttery-thick, vivid hues and thinned-out pastel washes, veiling one layer from the next, while creating nuance and gradient in colour.


Remaining true to her ongoing interest in creating a sense of tension within her works, Olivia brings early marks to the foreground and sends new marks to the background, through the careful action of scraping with a palette knife. In doing so, she manipulates the order in which marks are understood, creating a sense of deliberate confusion within the works, navigating the intersection between control and disorder, through the bold exploration of colour, and the metalinguistic properties of paint.


The completed series, showcased on the white walled gallery rooms, sit directly above the space in which they were created. With process being both at the heart of Olivia’s practice, tHEIR has, for the first time, opened up the artist’s studio space - the proverbial foundations of the works - as part of the exhibition. 


In the studio space, the gallery will be projecting a short video installation as the second half of the presentation. The projection, superimposed over the residue of the marks that created the final works, acts as an immersive and abstract dive into the relationship between artist, method, material and practice. The video opens up the idea that an ‘other half’ of a painting exists, one which is so often concealed, one that is just as important - the process. 


Viewers return upstairs to re-experience the works with a new, nuanced understanding; noticing the traces of paint drippings and splatters on select canvases, which are the runoff of the paintings created before them.
With this, the works gain their sense of completeness, each piece acting as an important chapter and part of the story of understanding, experimentation and discovery. 

Precipice is a rare chance to explore an artist’s entire process, from start to end. To connect with the works and the artist, in a way that is seldom possible in traditional presentation formats.


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