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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | October 29, 2020

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Bernard Ollis' colourful interludes

Bernard Ollis’ colourful interludes

| On 19, May 2017

Bernard Ollis’ latest exhibition Observations at Mitchell Fine Art Gallery follows his style of colourful mysterious worlds.

Streetscapes inspired by Brisbane, Paris, Morocco and London draw in the viewer. A snapshot in time and a visual representation of days spent admiring viewpoints and happenings in a certain locale. Ollis’ works are continuously a flamboyant and colourful interlude to our day.

His works skew perspective to show the viewer more than the physical viewpoint, creating a memory of the emotional experience of a place rather than a true recollection. His compositional balance is intuitive and leads viewers gaze up, around and through the work. A never-ending journey of curves and details.  For, as Bernard himself agrees, Fine Art never reveals everything in the first viewing.

Bernard is an artist who supports art for art’s sake. This creative freedom is evident on the joy and colour of his works. His use of oil pastels allows him an immediacy of work and rework. Here, there is a focus on optimism and possibility that is increasingly pertinent to the current arts scene.

Avenue De La Bourdonnais Paris 700

However, we bring our preconceptions to our interpretation of artworks and on this bright sunny day in Brisbane, I feel a chill. Viewed in the current mindset of the Australian public, with vast political upheaval and uncertain futures – the bright energy of these works stands in stark contrast. As I lament the current level of respect for visual arts, the fantastical works take on malicious undertones – teasing me with the memory of a better yesterday.

Avenue De La Bourdonnais Paris focuses on apartment buildings and La Tour Eiffel soaring to the sky. They curve outwards and diminish the stature and importance of the figures in the foreground. Alongside these people going about their day, we too are belittled. We step into the painting at a crossing but step out at our peril. Here the gaudy colours of Ollis’ works take on a more sinister sideshow quality as we battle with vertigo.

Marrakech Bathroom 700

Ollis’ use of curving lines and trademark disruption of straight perspective challenges our immediate entry to the images, making us unsteady on our feet. The curved lines create an alternate reality and the bright colours bring us to believe it is a better version than our own. In Marrakesh Bathroom, we step through a doorway to another world and tumble down like Alice.

As I wander through the ‘Observations’ exhibition, I hope it is a prediction –  a foretelling of the bright, patterned future of Brisbane. The fervour of the works brings me boundless joy and the invitation to create my own story is appreciated. Viewed en masse, the works jump out from the white walls of Mitchell Fine Art Gallery with powerful impact.


What: Observations exhibition by Bernard Ollis

When: Wednesday 10 May until Saturday 3 June

Where: Mitchell Fine Art Gallery, Fortitude Valley

Cost: Free

More Info: Event page online

Image Credit: ‘Pont Neuf Winter Sun,’ ‘Avenue De La Bourdonnais Paris’  and ‘Marrakech Bathroom’ by Bernard Ollis, courtesy of Mitchell Fine Art Gallery