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Robert Olsen
Civic 4
at Susanne Vielmetter L.A. Projects

New Order


Topology (Mathematiques)
Versions of Heaven
by Eve Wood

Robert Olsen, "Intraurban, Interurban," Feb. 16-Mar. 16, 2002, at Susanne Vielmetter L.A. Projects, 5363 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca. 90048

Robert Olsen's second solo show at Susanne Vielmetter L.A. Projects presents a series of small oils on synergite board, each of which stands as an elegant, intensely realized homage to solitude, to an elliptical, mythologized space.

Olsen's images of vandalized bus shelters, garbage cans, gas stations and curbsides evoke a sense of mystery, a kind of ominous dislocation wherein the artist monumentalizes a series of banal objects, elevating them through his precise use of light and space to a mythic level.

In Topology (Mathematiques), a quasi space-age garbage receptacle stands center of the frame, punctuated by a vibrant green top, the space around it appallingly empty. Studying this image, you get the sense that you may have walked, unwittingly, into an episode of Dr. Spock's Star Trek, and the trash can may very well have power over your mind.

In Civic 1-4, we are given the same image repeated three times in different sizes, each in direct proportion to the previous. In the fourth image, the point of view is shifted slightly. The image is haunting, and the light suffusing the glass wall of the shelter appears more like a portal into heaven than man-made artifice.

Olsen could be called a "modern day zealot of the quiet, inauspicious moment," and Carmine Iannaccone has said his work exists "in the absence of the language that socializes these sites, the objects thus becoming a smoldering dramatic event."

Olsen's paintings are priced at $2,500 to $3,000.

EVE WOOD writes on art from Los Angeles.