John Olsen, Wet Season, Dance, 2022,Mixed media on paper, framed, 50 x 65cm. Courtesy: the artist and Olsen Gallery.
“In many ways, John’s paintings have the ability to distort and play with time. The joyful immediacy of his mark conceals the gravitas that forms the bedrock of six decades of painting. Watching the work at firsthand, I can say that the iconic fluidity of his line, his seamless pleasure (and success) in life, and what seemed like a rolling cavalcade of great and major works of art took tremendous drive and concentration.”
John Olsen is not an abstract artist; he is one of the great evocative painters. His link to poetry is his other great strength. I feel he has been gifted in his ability to understand beauty and still praise the ugly, the uneven, the difficult. His work also spans and masters many disciplines. A passionate collector once hailed him ‘the Picasso of Australia’, a patently throwaway remark, and yet effectively like Picasso he has mastered and never faltered in any of his chosen mediums. Even ceramics. The idiosyncrasy of his mark is inherent everywhere.
“People see pain as profound and pleasure as mildly suspicious, yet both are present in equal measure in the work of John Olsen, you just need to excavate a bit deeper. Everything my father touches is full of passion, intensity, truth and curiosity. The child is always alive.”- Tim Olsen