John Olsen’s The You Beaut Country at the Art Gallery of NSW

OLSEN is proud to announce the opening of John Olsen’s The You Beaut Country at the Art Gallery of NSW. This exhibition surveys John Olsen’s remarkable seven-decade career, including paintings, ceramics, tapestries and works on paper from collections across Australia.

It features some of his most iconic and arresting works, including large-scale paintings of Sydney Harbour and Lake Eyre and his career-defining landscape series The You Beaut Country.

Olsen is renowned for his energetic painting style and his lyrical depictions of the Australian landscape and its life-forms. The exhibition traces the development of his spectacular and idiosyncratic vision, highlighting his lifelong interest in the natural world and his continued pursuit to capture the Australian identity.

The You Beaut Country is on view until 12 June 2017. All tickets can be purchased through the AGNSW website here.

John Olsen Sydney Sun (or King Sun) 1965 oil on composition board, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased with funds from the Nerissa Johnson Bequest 2000 © John Olsen

Copies of John Olsen: The You Beaut Country Catalogue – National Gallery of Victoria and John Olsen A Recipe for Art can be purchased through the OLSEN website, here.



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Interview with Julian Meagher

 Julian Meagher discusses his exhibition ‘There is Hope to the Last Flower‘  at Olsen Gallery with Varia Koripoff in the current issue of Art Guide.

Julian Meagher, There is Light Somewhere, 152 x 246 cm. Oil on linen. 2016.

Article by Varia Karipoff,

His story has been told numerous times across media – often with just a lingering hint of incredulity. Julian Meagher completed a medical degree before embarking on a career as a painter. Though in truth his interest in art never waned, somehow finding time to undertake a classical education in portrait painting at Charles H Cecil Studios in Florence, midway through his medical studies.

Over the course of 15 years Meagher has notched up an Archibald moment (he was a finalist in 2014 and 2015), won a slew of grants and prizes, and exhibited in places as far afield as India, Singapore and LA.

In his painting, Meagher is conscious of the disconcertedness and darkness beneath our ‘radiant Southern Cross.’


Working in thinned down oils he captures the pellucid blue light and reflective surfaces of his childhood upbringing on Sydney Harbour’s foreshore – albeit in unexpected objects. The metallic tones of a bloated cask wine bladder, or a family of empty alcohol bottles knocked over like skittles and adorned with native flora are just two examples of his uniquely Australian work.

In the resulting still life, national perceptions of masculinity and addiction, and even the violence that precipitated lockout laws are cast back at the viewer from the painted surface. In his latest exhibition, a gentler, more optimistic tone comes to the fore.

Varia Karipoff—Your inroad into the art world was somewhat unorthodox – how did it unfold?

Julian Meagher—I have always loved painting and been surrounded by it since I was a kid, spending a lot of my teenage years taking extra art courses and also studying for a year over in Italy at an art school. I then completed a medical degree at university in my early twenties before deciding to pursue art professionally.

VK—What compelled you to change direction after completing your studies in medicine?

JM—I finally grew some balls. I am kind of happy though that I was more mature and experienced when I started out. Without discipline and drive it’s very hard to work through the highs and lows of making paintings.

VK—Can you describe how you work?

JM—I think my main influence actually came from family. My mum is a painter and was always taking us to galleries, and my uncle was a die hard collector. I did spend a lot of time by the water growing up, and began to realise even then that each area in Sydney has quite a dark and often unrecognised past underneath its immediate aesthetic beauty. I guess I am still working out my place in this city and its history.

'Study for There is Light Somewhere' 117 x 96 cm. Oil on linen. 2016
Julian Meagher, Study for There is Light Somewhere, 117 x 96 cm. Oil on linen. 2016


VK—Previously your paintings chronicled eastern tattoos and exotic birds, why has your lens turned inwards to Australian culture?

JM—To be honest it is the narrative of paint and space itself that is the overriding joy I get from making work, regardless of subject matter. However, I do think Australian culture is becoming more important to me as I grow up and want the country to grow in the right direction as well.

VK—Tell me about your upcoming show at Olsen Gallery – what can we expect to see?

JM—The title of this show [There is Hope to the Last Flower] is a quote from an apiarist discussing the plight of bees. Faced with so many sad and distressing events in our world, and my own sense of hopelessness at times, I wanted to paint a show about optimism. This show includes portraits and still lifes touching on many disparate subjects – ranging from friends’ addictions, the recent lockout laws, Australia’s identity, our environment, love and my recent marriage. When I look at things I see so many reflections.

VK—The works from the Olsen show are very patient studies in light, transparency and reflection – we can definitely see the optimism coming through.

JM—I hope so. The economist Paul Romer recently described optimism as both conditional and complacent. The feeling a child experiences while waiting for a present is complacent or passive optimism. Whereas conditional optimism is when a child that wants a tree house realises, that if he gets the materials and friends to help him – he can then build it himself. I think I am trying to engage in conditional optimism whenever I can in many aspects of both life and studio practice. Painting in its pure form is a great example of this. As painters we can decide where to shine the light.

VK—In your paintings of goon bags the line between humour, beauty, critique and celebration is blurred – why did you choose this derided object as a focus?

JM—They are great objects to paint, so damn solid but at times also threatening to float away. It is hard to beat translating such a symbolic object into a thing of beauty.

VK—Often objects or figures are grouped in your work in a way which suggests a landscape, although your paintings are practically always interior, or at least devoid of background detail. Are you conscious of a tension between still life and landscape in your work?

JM—I guess I do see each work as a kind of constructed landscape. I am actually about to undertake a residency with Bega Valley Regional Gallery in which I am looking forward to painting a landscape series. It will be interesting to see what comes out of that.

VK—Coming from a studio-based practice, how do you think you will approach landscape painting?

JM—To be honest I have no idea. Most of my recent landscapes have ended up in the bin. I am actually hoping that the environment there will help me push through these failures into something special.

VK—What else are you looking forward to this year?

JM—Becoming a father.

VK—What is something that you have seen or read recently that has had an impact on your practice in some way?

JM—Sapiens by Yuval Harari is a book that I think should be essential reading for everyone, it is one of the best entry points into the history and mechanics of humanity. Also, the David Hockney exhibition at the NGV just blew me away, his passion for mark making, perspective and his willingness to experiment are elements I have tried to bring more to my own practice.

There is Hope to the Last Flower
Julian Meagher
Olsen Gallery
22 February – 12 March

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OLSEN artist Marisa Purcell is holding a masterclass at St George School of Fine Arts in collaboration with The Community Education and Arts Development Centre (CEAD). ‘CEAD is an initiative of TAFE NSW Sydney, working with community, industry and government partners.’

‘Gain insight into some of the working methods and techniques used by award-winning artists, explore the ‘language’ of painting, discover traditional techniques and use them in contemporary painting practice or learn fundamentals felt form techniques to create soft sculptures.’

Marisa Purcell
The Art of Indeterminacy. After John Cage
23 and 24 March 10am-4.30pm

For more information please visit the website here

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OLSEN Gallery is proud to support Laura Jones who is donating a work to the Public Interest Advocacy Center’s Social Justice dinner for 2017.

Laura Jones, Sunflowers, oil on linen, 71 x 76cm

To bid on this work, please follow the link here. A chance to support a worthy cause and snap up the beautiful Laura Jones piece above.

For more information, please visit their website here or see below to purchase tickets.

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Ep #15 Alan Jones

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OLSEN artist Sophie Cape features in the first Australian Story episode for 2017.

“Described as more like a “rock star” than a painter, Sophie Cape never wanted to be an artist.

A former elite athlete, she was destined for the Olympic Games in two separate sports — first as a downhill ski racer and then as a track cyclist — but her sporting career was shattered after suffering catastrophic injury and undergoing controversial “experimental” body-modification surgery intended to help her performance.

Left physically and psychologically traumatised, Sophie Cape then transformed herself into one of Australia’s most celebrated young artists.

It’s a profession she has long resisted, as both her mother Ann Cape and her grandmother the late Gwenna Welch are highly regarded artists.

But now Sophie Cape has no doubt about becoming the third generation artist in her family: “Art saved me.””

View ‘Adrenaline Brush’ on ABC Monday February 6th at 8pm. View the trailer here

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OLSEN artist George Byrne has recently co-created the title sequence for the brilliant new HULU series ‘Shut Eye’. Created by Leslie Bohem starring Jeffery Donovan, Angus Sampson & KaDee Strickland.

All images from Shine Studio

Watch the opening trailer for ‘Shut Eye’ (featuring Byrne’s work) here

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Olsen gallery would like to congratulate to Bartolomeo Celestino whose book, Surface Phenomena, has been selected to be a part of the exhibition, Photobook Phenomenon in Barcelona, Spain.

The exhibition is being shown simultaneously across two venues in Barcelona, the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (CCCB) and the Foto Colectania Foundation, and explores the world of the photobook from different viewpoints with the aim of understanding its history and language, and analysing the way in which this unique medium is developing.

From a selection made by a committee appointed by specialists and curators in the field, Bartolomeo Celestino’s Surface Phenomena was selected as one of the best photobooks to have been published in the last two years.

Photobook Phenomenon runs from the 17 March – 27 August 2017. For more information visit the website here.

‘SURFACE PHENOMENA’ is available from OLSEN gallery here

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Sydney art dealer Tim Olsen is about to open the doors on one of his most ambitious projects yet: his own gallery in the thick of New York’s cut-throat contemporary art gallery scene.

Located on Elizabeth Street in Soho’s established gallery enclave, Olsen told PS he was confident the move would be a success, with a long list of Australian and international artists set to grace its walls.

Ambitious project: Tim Olsen is launching a New York gallery. Photo: Anthony Johnson

“With so many of my artists selling over here online, and with my sister’s [designer Louise Olsen] Dinosaur Designs shop going great guns after 10 years in New York, add to that our combined contacts, and I feel confident it would do well,” Olsen said from Miami, where he was exhibiting Sydney artist Martine Emdur whose underwater nudes series were selling strongly.

“I have an experienced, great girl living in New York to run the gallery and other international artists who will exhibit with us. It won’t be a marsupial, Aussie-artists-only gallery,” Olsen said.

Tim Olsen, who represents the work of his father John Olsen, pictured at his gallery in 2015. Photo: Steven Siewert

“So often when I travel globally I often come back knowing some of my artists are as good if not better than some of the artists I see exhibiting in major galleries in the northern hemisphere.

“It’s a low overhead experiment that I’m happy to give a couple years to. I hope some of my artists will attract the respect and prices they deserve, instead of being held back by a small economy.”

Olsen, the son of legendary Australian artist John Olsen, said his two existing galleries in Sydney would continue as is, while his list of high-profile artists around the world continues to grow, with the likes of Noah Taylor and Rose Byrne’s brother George Byrne being represented by him “As they say over here, ‘If you can’t buy it in New York, you can’t buy it anywhere.”

OLSEN GRUIN will open in early 2017, situated in the heart of SoHo at 211 Elizabeth Street, New York City, NY.


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11 FEBRUARY – 5 MARCH 2017

Opening reception Saturday 11 February 2-4pm at OLSEN Annexe, 74 Queen Street Woollahra Sydney

This February, OLSEN Annexe will present New York Nowhere featuring artists Alphachanneling, Jay Miriam and Jesse Edwards, curated by Emerald Gruin.

New York Nowhere bridges the artistic boundary between New York and Sydney in preparation for the upcoming 2017 opening of the OLSEN GRUIN gallery space in New York. These three New York artists explore the female form in altered and corresponding ways.

Alphachanneling’s sensual compositions caused a stir in the artist’s first March 2016 solo exhibition at New York’s Jack Hanley Gallery. Referencing ancient, tantric, Taoist, Hindu and Buddhist tropes, Jerry Saltz exclaimed “there’s an outsider-ish Henri Rousseau quality… Sigmar Polke’s easiness of line and simplicity.” Alphachanneling describes the work as “a devotional prayer to the feminine principal.”

Erotic and graceful, Alphachanneling’s lithe compositions contrast with Jay Miriam’s bold painterly strokes and ascetic and heavy female form. Her work draws the viewer into a secret inquiry of her world – abject limbs that are wide open, expressions that are carnal and raw. Miriam’s July 2016 solo exhibition at Half Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was widely successful for the young painter of twenty-six.

Jesse Edwards is a downtown New York based fine art oil painter with Vito Schnabel Gallery. Edwards’ juxtaposes his thuggish persona and illicit subject matter with the polished application of old master techniques such as underpainting and extensive glazing to bring forward his vision of the All American woman. Edwards’ fascination with card playing and still life composition is superbly illustrated in his compositions of Queen of Hearts and pinup playing cards.

From top: Alphachanneling, P U S S Y- Colour Version (2016), pencil on paper, 45.7 x 30.4cm. Jay Miriam, Waiting in Line for Ice Cream (2016), oil on linen, 137.1 x 101.6cm. Jesse Edwards, Cardhous with Nude (2015), oil on linen, 137.1 x 121.9cm.

OLSEN GRUIN will open in early 2017, situated in the heart of SoHo at 211 Elizabeth Street, New York City, NY.

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