Made In L.A. is coming to the Hammer, Barnsdall Park, LAXART, and billboards around town on June 2 and will showcase sixty emerging, under-recognized Los Angeles artists–one of which will be voted to win a $100,000 prize. In order to help you make an educated vote this summer, we’re counting down to Made In L.A. by showcasing each artist participating in the biennial.
Alex Olson is a Los Angeles based painter whose work, although abstract, is all about language.
Her paintings are meditations on shapes and color, often pools of movement that are so full they become static. With this as the base, she then places what could be seen as exclamation points by way of a few shapes in colors that are outside of the palette already created, deviations from the visual language established. They very often look like painted scribbles and notes and pages torn from a very studious high schooler’s notebook to serve as the inspiration for oil paintings. The work often dips into graphic design, geometric shapes, lines, and repetitions almost making her work look like giant book covers or wallpapers for a computer.
Language steps into play on many levels. As mentioned, her visual language is the starting point for her painting, a blank canvas already created on a blank canvas. In Cover and Ad, above left and right, she has established a voice of the painting, which she then breaks: Cover sees a black lined grid which she then places abstract thought bubbles atop of while Ad establishes a blue and green system of lines, which she then erases in a negative space calligraphy. Furthering language, they all seem to get at reading and writing and literature and book design, with titles like Translation, Prose, Stanza, and For The Librarian. Some of Olson’s paintings are almost literal expression of these literary concepts through paintings, Alliteration being a perfect example of that.
Alex Olson has an agenda to her abstraction, one that involves lots of reading of shapes and colors. She’s one of lots of abstract persons at Made In L.A., a list that seems to grow with every week. What makes her stand out from the rest is her being rooted in language, whether it is visual language or the English language. We’re anticipating a piece that exemplifies both perfectly: a sea of color of shapes punctuated with a deviation in the pattern she has established, likely named after the literary device it seeks to explain.