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22.1.04

Robert Olsen

If you haven't yet, go to Modern Art Notes and read Tyler Green's review of a Robert Olsen show (Robert Olsen: Painter of Modern Light, January 20) at Plane Space in New York. This was my first exposure to this painter's work, and the images in Tyler's post were enough to make me want to see more. What is interesting about these paintings of the Getty Center is that scenes of modern desolation (elevators, parking lots, trams), which are truly ugly and illuminated by fluorescent light, are rendered lovingly, accurately, and transformingly. From what little I've read about him since reading Tyler's review, Olsen has been compared to Edward Hopper (for example, the artificial light of New York Movie, from 1939; Gas, from 1940; Nighthawks, from 1942) and Giorgio Morandi. For the style, process, and subject matter, I would also make a connection with the precisionism of someone like Charles Sheeler (for example, see Suspended Power from 1939).

Robert Olsen is a recent graduate of UCLA's MFA program. Some searching produced a few more images of his paintings: Untitled (Gasoline Pump, #4) (2003), Pump (Island) (2003), The Distance Between Two Cars, Version I (2003), The Distance Between Two Cars, Version II (2003), Reset (2002), New Order (2002), Topology (Mathematiques) (2002), Civic 4 (2002), and Parking Meter (Multi Station) (2001). Some of the Gasoline Pump paintings were featured in a show called "C6H6" last year at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, where most of Olsen's work is shown.

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