Born and raised in London, Epp’s coming-of-age coincided with the ascent of the Internet. Fittingly, his paintings hum with contradictory impulses. Pulled from the 1960s psychedelic-folk hit by Jefferson Airplane, the exhibition’s title Don’t You Want Somebody to Love? aptly describes the search for human connection in the digital age.OLI EPPPillowcase, 2022180 × 200 cm | 70 7/8 × 78 3/4 inchOil and acrylic on canvas
His compositions, first drawn from real-world observations, begin with a pencil sketch, which is then scanned into a computer. There, in the frictionless space of a user interface, he begins to dissemble and re-assemble the image, again and again according to the economic rubric of advertising clarity or the infographic. Yet, the hand drawing — imperfect and, perhaps, in its unsteadiness, vulnerable in its fallibility — remains. Although he appropriates the visual comfort of the algorithm, he also revels in its discomfort.OLI EPPSurrogate, 2022190 × 225 cm | 74 13/16 × 88 9/16 inchOil and acrylic on canvas
In the studio, Epp begins by applying layers of acrylic paint onto his canvas, producing ostensibly simple compositions. Then, Epp uses oil paint for a precise rendering of objects. This stacking, a careful accumulation, recalls the layers of a photoshop file as much as it does the sublimity of Donald Judd’s Stacks.
Epp’s choice of objects are enshrined with a certain cultural reverence: a Yankees cap, a nameplate necklace, a single smouldering cigarette. And sometimes, objects are not always objects; sometimes they are body parts, like an engorged groin or a lipstick-encased grin. These, too, are objects for Epp. If Epp’s backgrounds — blurred, endless, sublime — are the endless scroll of an iPhone, then perhaps objects — functional, clear, hyper-visible — are like an emoji, expediently tacked onto a text message.