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Erik Olson

Crow (2014)

Ground floor, in the northwest corridor adjacent to classroom 1350.


Erik Olson

oil on denim
63" x 159 ¾"

The Mountains
Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON
(4 - 26 July 2014)

"The enormous painting titled 'Crow' is truly exceptional. Olson has produced a work that summons up the Group of Seven, and then moves forward. There is energy in the piece that is almost forcefully contemporary, a convergence of traditional painting with something akin to digitization. One can observe how the artist is merging styles, pulling the tranquil mountain vistas of Lawren Harris through a time warp, reframing the Western Canadian landscape in the process." - Andrew Gunn, "Erik Olson: On the Landscape" in Canadian Interviews (20 June 2014)

Exhibition History

Erik Olson finds his inspiration from life: from his friends, the surrounding landscape, the city and clear skies at night. He continually follows his curiosity. Beginning with a simple interest in a subject, Olson researches and collects extensive source material before he sets out to paint. Olson’s recent series of paintings explored the themes of space, India, modern dance, portraits and mythological gods.

The paintings included in “The Mountains” return Olson to his Alberta roots. Using the Group of Seven as a starting point, Olson has re-framed the Western Canadian landscape through a contemporary lens in order to see the landscape as it exists now.

The paintings become visual mash-ups, combining Jackson Pollock-like drips and splashes with slices of idyllic Lawren Harris mountain vistas. All of this is held together by formal compositions taken directly from Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948 German Dada artist, master of collage and assemblage). With bold colour and exuberant brushwork, Olson has re-interpreted the Canadian landscape, collaging together our history of art, architecture and our relationship with nature.


Erik Olson was born in Calgary in 1982, and graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2007. The following years after university, Olson travelled extensively, studying painting at artist residencies in Canada, Italy and India. Olson self-curated his first solo show in an abandoned gas station in 2008. Since then, his paintings have been recognized by curators and galleries which has led to exhibitions at the Glenbow Museum, MOCA Calgary, Art Gallery of Calgary and the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Union Gallery. In 2012, his painting, “The Skateboarder”, was included in the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, UK.

In 2014 Olson moved to Düsseldorf, Germany to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as Peter Doig’s guest student. His artwork is in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, McCarthy Tetrault LLP, Richard Ivey School of Business and TD Bank.

Exhibition and biography information courtesy of Michael Gibson Gallery

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