13.05.2023 — 27.05.2023

Private View
13 May

12A Savile Row

Exhibition Text

Carl Kostyál is delighted to present ‘Shampoo’, an exhibition of new paintings by London born and
raised artist Oli Epp, his third show with the gallery.

Epp’s cast of characters for this exhibition sport wickedly sharp cuts and perfectly realized pouting
or grimacing mouths, eyes obscured from view by natty visors and the familiar recurring motif of ear
pods, so iconic to his practice, that speak to a soundtrack we are left to imagine. Drawing on the
Warholian fetishization of celebrity (think Marilyn, Jackie et al), where he endlessly reproduced an
image well-known in the public domain while resolutely denying the spectator the psychological reveal
that had come to characterize portraiture in the 20th century, Epp has created a series of
androgynous portraits that, in their deliberate sparseness, their sense of realism and depth and in
their finely rendered brush stroke, also call to mind the visual intensity of Tom Wesselmann and his
use of the disembodied, heavily painted, sexualised mouth in the 1960s – a period of enormous social,
political and cultural shifts that echoes our present. The mouth is a loaded motif of course. Here it
becomes by turns deeply seductive, mysterious, beguiling, suggestive – but also a mysteriously opaque
opening of sorts. With the eyes, the windows to the soul, obscured by Gnoli-esque curtains of
variously-hued glossy tinted hair, the mouths become a synonym for a point of entry to the full
identity of his ‘sitters’ which surely lies beyond.

Epp’s paintings here play with a shorthand of both abstraction and figuration. One explicitly
references the hard-edge paintings and palette of Ellsworth Kelly, Their airbrushed and brushed
perfection is at once seductive, playful and unnerving. Acidly intense colour, razor-sharp painterly
definition and the familiar accessories of our daily existence define this new series of works as
painstakingly rendered and incisive portraits of our time, mediated by the artist from the trenches of
saturated social media and all that that encompasses.

Oli Epp (b.1994, London) lives and works in London and holds a BA in Fine Art from City & Guilds of
London Art School. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Don’t You Want Somebody To Love?’, Perrotin,
New York (2022), ‘Nine Lives’, Semiose, Paris (2022), ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, Carl Kostyál, Stockholm
(2021), ‘Souvenir’, Division Gallery, Montreal, Canada (2021) and Oxymoron, Carl Kostyál, London
(2021). In 2021 he curated the group show ‘Friends and Friends of Friends’ at the Schlossmuseum
Linz, Austria. His work is included in several public collections worldwide, including the Museum of
Modern Art, Paris, the Hall Art Foundation, Reading, USA and the Thyssen collection, Madrid.