Oliver Gosling’s paintings are about the conundrums of surface and depth, and the material embodiment of space that is peculiar to the medium of painting. Space, both physical and psychological, is at a premium as never before. Population expansion, information technology, social media and all the accompanying distractions, expectations and pressures evoke an urgent need for interval, pause, for slowing the eye, for the gaps, the between-worlds, and the edges. The landscape space in the paintings is neutral and is not topographic. Its mood ranges from liberating to dystopian. The texture of the paint and the frequent use of graphite and pearlescent pigments has the twofold function of drawing the viewer into the space of the painting and at the same time projecting that space onto, and addressing that space in, the viewer; a breathing space.
In the Anthropocene era, nature is either messed up or inaccessible. So, in the paintings an unmediated, virgin space is sought, a needed space, a recognition of the disinterested neutrality of nature which trumps our homo-centrism. However, our perception can never be free or neutral. There are usually single objects in the space; a chair, a hut, a fence, a mountain, some steps. They are not symbolic or pertain to specific meanings or narratives. They are there to hold the space and give focus and dignity to acknowledged feelings of isolation, of prevailing uncertainties, unknowns and loss. Being engulphed within the larger space, space in this context is a healer.
The paradox of a painting, two-dimensional and bounded by four sides, wanting to talk about space, is akin to infinities of space being sensed within the confines of the body, and the function of material metaphor is crucial in every aspect of painting.
The paintings explore the world of being and non-being in a language of form, surface, void and space particular to the practice of painting. Where do we belong? how do we find a personal space, a refuge in an alien, disinterested space? how do we traverse that space? are obstacles real or illusory? is our presence, our absence, a non-reality in the greater space? Oliver’s work has been influenced by Japanese and Chinese landscape ink monochrome painting, where space is an active force in which nature appears as a sign, an in-between world, whose essence and life force are transient and conditioned by space.
He lived and exhibited in Japan for two years and in China for seven and a half years, where he held several exhibitions, each one an occasion to open up dialogues through talks and workshops, demonstrating that deeply held perceptions and sensibilities originating in very different cultures have the capacity to address our common humanity across time and space and, in terms of Chinese and Japanese concepts of space, have particular resonance today.
EXHIBITIONS AND COMMISSIONS
2019 Solo exhibition ‘Within, Without’ at Fanxi Delarue Gallery (www.fanxidelaruegallery.com) Saint Germain en Laye, France.
2018 ‘Shifting Spaces’ Solo exhibition, with lecture, Air Currents, Tunis House, Tunis Tunisia.
‘Intervals of Silence’, Curated exhibition with Aimie Herbert and Carmel Pia, Angus-Hughes Gallery, London.
2017 Solo exhibition, Galerie La Metisse d’Argile, France.
2016 Summer Salon: Luborimov and Angus-Hughes Gallery, London.
2015 Solo exhibition: ‘Encounter’ at Ju Er Gallery, Beijing, China.
Major solo retrospective exhibition: ‘Abandoned Field’ at Ceiling Gallery (www.ceilingspace.org), Chongqing, China. Sponsored by the British Council, China.
2013 Mixed exhibition: ‘Starlight Cluster’ at Hangxiang Contemporary Art International Guest Exhibition, Chongqing, China.
2010 Shanghai International Art Fair with Jinse Gallery.
2009 Solo exhibition in Hangzhou International Art Fair.
Shanghai International Art Fair with Jinse Gallery.
30 paintings at Zhu Hai Art Centre.
2008 Major solo exhibition: ‘Present Shadows’ at Jinse Gallery, Chongqing, China.
Commission: 8 paintings for iCity Development Company, Chongqing.
2005 Solo exhibition: ‘Heads’ at Art First, Contemporary Art, Cork Street, London.
2003 Mixed exhibition at Apex International, Dundee, in association with Blink Red.
2002 Hunting Art Prizes at The Royal College of Art, London.
‘Letters From Elsewhere’ at Brunel University, London with Yuji Oki, Anne Rook, and Isao Miura.
2001 Open exhibition: First Royal West of England Academy. Prize-winner.
Solo exhibition as part of ‘Moments and Memories’ at Woodlands Art Gallery, Greenwich, London.
Works on paper, solo exhibition at Tokyo Narita Airport, sponsored by Japan Airlines.
2000 Solo exhibition at Galerie MMG, Tokyo, Japan.
1998 ‘Landmark’. Mixed exhibition of works by artists influenced by the land, at Bournemouth University.
1997 Selected from a Europe-wide competition to participate in ‘Quarrant Anni in Blu’, celebrating 40 years of promoting contemporary art at Galeria Blu, Milan, Italy.
1995 Mural commission: In Tandem (2.5x12m) for the Co-operative Retail Services Headquarters, Rochdale, Manchester
1993 Contemporary Art Society, Smiths Galleries, Covent Garden, London.
1992 ‘South Bank Picture Show’ at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
‘Summer Choice’ at Mercury Gallery, Cork Street, London.
1991 Solo exhibition at Kaya Gallery of Art, Brussels.
1990 ‘Introducing New Artists’ Mercury Gallery, Cork Street, London.
Royal College of Art, London
C.R.S Headquarters, Rochdale, Manchester.
Contemporary Art Society, London
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum
BBC National Archive
HMD International, Chongqing, China
i-City Urban Development Company, Chongqing, China
Private collections in UK, Germany, Italy, Holland, France, Switzerland, Japan and China.
TEACHING AND LECTURING
University of Brighton: Lecturer, BA Fine Art Painting and MA Fine Art
Oxford University Department of Continuing Education: Certificate in the History of Art.
Accredited Lecturer for the Arts Society, UK