Oli Epp

How to paint mankind today? And more precisely, how to paint humankind influenced by our era, namely the technocratic 21st century?

This is the big question that Oli Epp tries to answer through his work. And our era has more than one vice to denounce. A prominent digital presence to the detriment of the real, a passion for self-image exacerbated by social networks, and a daily life infested with advertisements and logos that plunge us into a state of constant lack. An ever shrinking attention span, constantly torn between the various stimulants of our society: sugar, notifications, immediate gratifications, luxury brands, unfulfilled desires, constant dissatisfaction, and inability to keep up with the pace imposed by a delirious consumer society. These constantly fluctuating desires plunge us into loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, obesity, debt, and depression.

Oli Epp brilliantly succeeds in denouncing this malaise without falling into the obvious illustration or social commentary, which have been done and seen over and over again. He first conceptualizes his works on his screen and then transposes them onto the canvas using acrylic paints, oils, and sprays. He skilfully offers a very pleasant aesthetic at first glance. The paintings are bright with vivid colors, with beautiful smooth and precise surfaces, in flat tints or gradients, animated with reality and a degree of detail that sometimes approaches a photo. But if you look at the canvas longer, you can quickly see the perverse and malignant dimension that this satisfying aesthetic compensates for. If the colors and the beautiful details seize us at first, we then notice the tortured forms and the modern pains that hide these seductive elements.

Oli Epp is painting a metamorphosis: that of the human species. From a Greek ideal of a muscular body and a cultivated mind, we have become amorphous, depressed, slaves of an endless race that dominates us from all its height. We have no face, no individuality. His characters have no eyes, blinded by distractions and instant pleasures, no window to their soul. But do they really still have one? Hasn’t it vanished, the logical result of an evolution that privileges having over being? If the works are quite seductive, the characters are extremely flat, tortured, and in
strange and disarticulated positions. There is nothing human left in his subjects, and yet we can all see ourselves in his paintings.

Inter-Faith Dialogue

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