We are pleased to present Erik Olson’s fifth solo exhibition, “Hold The Line”, new paintings capturing the people and places from his epic motorcycle journey across America.
Two years ago when Calgary-born-Dusseldorf-based Erik Olson was in London for his last solo exhibition, Michael Gibson showed him the beautiful vacant second floor of the gallery. This was a common practice with all visiting artists since Gibson always has had a vision to develop the second floor.
With this event, a shared dream was realized between Olson & Gibson. Percolating in his mind since that visit, Olson approached the gallery with an idea: in April 2018, he would fly home to Calgary, travel onto Vancouver to work on a set of prints and then buy a motorcycle for an extensive trip across America. He would end his ride at our gallery in London, Canada and work in the still-un-built upstairs studio on paintings about his memories, experiences and landscapes from his trip. An arrival date was set for July 1 and a proper studio was built between April and July.
Olson arrived on his 2018 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle at the end of 3 months riding across America. He travelled from Vancouver down the West Coast Highway stopping in Palo Alto, Big Sur and L.A. After L.A., he headed east through Joshua Tree, El Paso and Marfa on his way to New Orleans then up to New York City and Woodstock, NY. His arrival in London on July 1 coincided with a finished studio and waiting blank canvases.
The paintings included in our exhibition explore people and place. Through his expressive colour, fragmented line and exuberant brushwork, Olson gives us an energetic and distinct portrait of America. They represent his adventurous solo journey and are reflective of time spent on the open road, exposed to the elements and changing conditions. Some locations he sought out, like “Big Pink”, the Woodstock, NY house that served as the setting for Bob Dylan and The Band’s famous Basement Tapes, while other places, like “El Paso” and “Joshua Tree” were unforeseen discoveries.
Vivid memories of people are represented in portraits of a tuba player from a lively street party in New Orleans, a guitar player busking in New York City, a hopeful immigrant girl from Juarez, Mexico and an exuberant child thrilled to make her first painting.
Along with the ubiquitous American gas station and a lush stretch of a highway, Olson has also painted a gutsy portrait of his bike, the iconic Bonneville that guided him on his journey.
We are honoured to present this monumental body of work, a joyful celebration of time spent on the road and dreams fulfilled by Olson & Gibson.
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.
Beginning on September 28 at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Olson is included in a three person exhibition entitled “Cosmos”. Olson will be showing paintings from his 2011 “Space” series along with night sky paintings by Gathie Falk and beaded reliefs by Margaret Nazon.
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, RBC and TD Bank.
He currently lives and maintains a studio in Dusseldorf.