“Stripped of physical features but inhabiting graphic silhouettes, Epp’s figures are defined in the food, accessories, and fashion items that swirl around them. Mixing the flawless plasticity of airbrush and the sharpness of masking technique with realistically rendered oil sections, Epp’s visons become scarily real and alarming, despite haunting humor. Placed within a theater-like setting of blurred curtains draped in the background, each figure exaggerates real-life outrageousness, while commenting on lifestyles, trends or the emotional and social world in work that relates and connects with humor and impact.” –Sasha Bogojev, Juxtapoz, 2020
Oli Epp (b. 1994) is a painter living and working in London. Deformed, quirky and exuberant figures inhabit Oli Epp’s canvas, often staged within theatrical settings. Easy to read at first glance, these hyper-dramatised characters reflect upon our complex relationship to technology and social media. Epp’s idiosyncratic aesthetic fuses realistically painted details in oil with graphic techniques in airbrush and linear masking.
In 2017, Oli Epp coined the term “Post-Digital Pop” to define his aesthetic which endorses vivid colours, clarity of composition and ease of comprehension. As Epp explained: “‘Post-digital’ doesn’t stand for ‘after’, but it has something to do with our relationship with the digital space. I use Pop Art as a way to traverse the world through advertising and branding. So my paintings are punctuated by realism and with corporate symbols, along with flat planes of colours. My art is a response to our experience of living in this commercial and consumerist culture” – LINK IN BIO – Post-Digital Pop Podcast, Museum der bildenden Künste (Mdbk) Leipzig, 2020.
Oli Epp paintings create a whimsical archive of the digital-based and brand-obsessed culture we live in, depicting the idioms and icons of our times. His grotesque characters appear constricted within uncomfortable graphic forms and devoid of fleshy texture; they present anonymous facial features and are instead defined by clothes, brands and savage desires.
Yet, while objects and icons deceive us into the horizon of familiarity – pale orange Sainsbury’s bags, McDonald’s chips and Airpods – the paintings reveal the alienating dynamics of consumerism and the isolation which underpins the digital. Behind the flamboyant shapes of the canvas-screen lies a more sober social critique: a visual allusion to wider themes of consumption, relationships, sexual objectification and the commercialisation of art.
Oli Epp was born in London in 1994 and earned a BFA from the City & Guilds of London Art School in 2017.
Oli Epp’s recent solo exhibition includes: ‘Souvenir’, Division Gallery, Montreal (two-person show); ‘Black Swan’, Semiose Galeries, Paris (2020); ‘Oxymoron’, Carl Kostyál, London (2019); ‘Contactless – Oli Epp’, Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles (2019); ‘Epiphanies’, Semiose Galerie, Paris (2018). Oli Epp won several awards and was included into the following museums shows: ‘Link in Bio, Art After Social Media’, at the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig (2019) and ‘Friends and Friends of Friends’ which he co-curated at the Schlossmuseum in Linz, Austria (2020).
Oli Epp’s two-person show with Ry David Bradley will open in August 2021 at Carl Kostyál | Hospitalet Stockholm.
Epp’s works have been collected by major private and public collections such as V&A Museum’s Permanent Print Collection, Hall Art Foundation, Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection and Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection.