Martin Olsson is a Swedish born artist now residing in the UK. His work is abstract, focusing on a simplicity of line and a strength of colour. There are hints of mid 20th century American abstraction, but he pulls away from action painting and leans towards a more minimalist colour-field approach. There is a strong influence of Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings in Olsson’s ‘Red four times smaller’ which we loved. The symmetry, the boldness and the overall impact of a controlled palette was what compelled us, we are very intrigued to discover more about Martin Olsson an artist inspired by the past and creating the future.
Self taught or art school?
Very much a bit of both. I studied foundation art in Sweden and took a college diploma in Classical Animation in Dublin, where also a large part of the course dealt with classical drawing. I incessantly read books on modern artists and my collection of said literature soon threatens to take over my home. I learn from my colleagues at all times and perhaps this is the most enjoyable kind of learning.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
This is a tricky question, the choices are so many. I’d love to own one of either Donald Judd’s woodcuts, Noland’s stripe-paintings, a Ryman white or indeed Reinhardt’s black paintings but I’d have to go for Kazimir Malevich’s Black Suprematic Square (1915). In my thinking this work is the forerunner to modern abstract painting.
How would you describe your style?
I paint in an abstract style, I deal with the interplay between colour and proportion. Some call it colour-field or minimalist painting, I suppose. I look a lot at the minimalist movement and their approach keeps informing my choices. I find colour and the nature of each hue the to be the key, but in working with the colour I’m less interested in-depth or expressive lyricism or “action”. I favour a static approach, and I aim at a clarity within a limited number of variables. The contemplation of colours themselves often produces just as much excitement as imposed “expression” wishes to achieve. I think of each work as a discussion of the possibilities available alongside the arbitrarily imposed limitations I set myself. The process of change over time often feature in my works. I do work with and accept visible traces of the human hand. Perfection is overrated.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Museums or exhibitions are unparalleled places to view art, of course. You can see the works “in reality” and be part of them in a way. Viewing the true scale, texture and colour of a work is only possible in reality. Despite all technological advances around us, I find this fact reassuring and quite amusing. The problem with museums or exhibitions is of course that we can only be there for a short time in the day. Books, despite their miniscule size and often flawed colour-reproductions, mean more to me for my relation to art or an artist on a day-to-day basis. I can reach out to a book anytime, bring it with me and put it down as I need and this portability makes books my favourite means to learn about and view art.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
Ad Reinhardt is one of my absolute favourites, because his faithfulness to his view on art and the logic which he worked with. A very complex and interesting individual and not averse to conflict. Donald Judd, Kazimir Malevich, Blinky Palermo and Robert Ryman fascinate me again because of their stubborn exploration of the possibilities in art. Alan Green’s work intrigues me in its strong simplicity and stands as a model for how colour and proportion are aspects in painting that can be studied over and over again. Kenneth Noland plays a central role in my appreciation of colour and his choices are a tremendous inspiration to me. And Barnett Newman is lovely. Other artists I must mention here is John Dwyer McLaughlin and Frederick Hammersley, both of hard-edge abstraction fame and of course the omnipresent Agnes Martin.
What or who inspires your art?
Mainly the artists I read about and constantly think of. Colours and proportions of colours I see around me plays a role too, and not to forget, I’m constantly inspired by my colleagues.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
It’s in Derbyshire and I sit by a window in a corner of an open, light-flooded room. It’s a wonderful place to be. I discarded my fancy easel for a much less fancy old storage heater and I lean my paintings on this whilst working.
Do you have any studio rituals?
Solitude is my preferred mode of working in, and I listen to music in my headphones whilst drinking gallons of coffee and indulging in the odd Pot Noodle. The occasional tweet diverts me when I should be painting.
What are you working on currently?
I have several paintings on the go at any one time. Large works and smaller works alongside each other.
Where can we buy your art?
On my website www.martinolsson.co.uk I’ve indicated that different works are available with different galleries at this moment. The galleries are www.co3gallery.co.uk www.stoopsgallery.co.uk and www.ptfineart.co.uk
What are your ambitions?
To be able to continue paint in a meaningful way as long as I’m able. To exhibit, perchance to travel and to meet likeminded artists along the way.