CS Coates & Scarry

Introducing Russell and Ryan Oliver


Portrait of a dead self 2010 by Russell Oliver

Q: Tell us a little about your childhood? Russell: It was happy; my parents were supportive and were always encouraging whenever I wanted to get out the crayons or felt-tips. Ryan: It was a happy one.

Q: Being twins and both artists? Russell: I’m often asked ‘what it is LIKE being a twin?’ Being born a twin is an accident of birth: I don’t waste much time imagining a different existence, so I find the question odd. I don’t recall ever asking, ‘what is it like NOT being a twin? Ryan and I have a lot of interests in common and artistic technical skills that we both happen to want to pursue, this seems to have been with us always. I feel its more than vocation; I have as much say in the matter as I do in being born Ryan’s twin brother. Ryan: Sibling rivalry is a wonderful motivator.


Will & Daisy Plasenta Kiss by Ryan Oliver

Q: Do you influence each other’s work? Russell: We occasion advice from opposite sides of our shared studio at Spike Island. Ryan works in photomontage and I in acrylic paint so our practices are very different. It has been said that the work shares a similar ‘energy’(?). Ryan: I would say to Russell, if I didn't think a piece of his was up to scratch.

by Ryan Oliver

Q: Tell us about your creative process? Russell: I start by selecting an image; a photo that fuels my own interests and one that I can manipulate in paint. I tend to select black and white photographs as they provide strong tonality. Being devoid of colour I have free range to imagine my own. Stylistically I try to blend figurative with abstract and expressionist painting; an attempt to combine tight detail and looseness with an exaggerated use of colour and brushstroke. There is a mixture of solid and formal lines and gestural streaks and drips. This fusion, I hope, makes us look beyond the initial image and will stimulate questions Ryan: I work with photomontage/collage. My current practise examines the visual language of high fashion/lifestyle periodicals. Concerns with the position of women regarding imagery and representation are explored, the beauty/perfection constant, probed and scrutinised. Predictably banal, superficial objectification of the female form are cut from their origins and juxtaposed with strenuous misalliance to invalidate beauty's all important symmetrical balance. Other works facilitate dialogue between the innuendo laden visual language of fashion imagery with pornography by exchanging the implicit for the explicit, drawing parallels where the female form is commodity. New works confront fashion's fallacious covenant of eternal youth; tumorous flesh, death and grief are imposed as rebuttal.


Regarded with loathing-The young Crazed Peeling 2009 by Russell Oiver

Q: One of life’s pleasures? Russell: Coffee. Ryan: Music.

Q: Your alternative career? Russell: I’d have to do something creative; Director, musician or writer, but I don’t know on what grounds I should propose these options (other than loving film, music and books?). I have no skill in these fields. Ryan: Professional Boxer


HOT! by Ryan Oliver

Q: The inspiration behind your work? Russell: I am inspired by popular culture and modern mythologies, philosophy and religion and all music on my I-Pod (essential for long hours in the studio). Ryan: Collage by it's very nature is disparaging of it's source material. Collage is rendered with second hand material so inspiration is a response and is countering to what was presented originally. The mutability of fashion/media insures new aesthetics for me to manipulate, whilst the repetitive nature of fashion assures that the same concerns will always be present.

Q: The most challenging aspect of being an artist? Russell: Making it pay. Ryan: Not having a career path.

Q: The best thing about being an artist? Russell: As an artist you interpret the World on and in your own terms. Ryan: All artists are essentially egotists; we're all saying "Look over here, look what I can do, I have something to say". Being an artist allows you to ask questions and have your voice heard.

Q: A few of your favourites? (musician, visual, writer) Russell: Marlene Dumas and Daniel Richter, Stanley Kubrick and Terrence, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris Ryan: Jake & Dinos Chapman, Thomas Hirschhorn, John Stezaker, Linder, John Baldessari.


Cowl by Russell Oliver

Q: Three loves? Russell: Being around friends, nursing drinks and cigarettes Ryan: A: Coffee, scotch, red wine.


by Russell Oliver

Q: Three loathes? Russell: Organised religion, hereditary monarchy, superstitious ideas of predestination Ryan: Religion, prejudice, ignorance.


Untitled by Ryan Oliver

Q: Life outside art? Russell: Yes, there is. Ryan: I spend time with other people, not alone in the studio.

Portrait without Cigar 2010 by Russell Oliver

Q: Plans for the future? Russell: To make my art pay. Ryan: Strive to be a better artist.

Russell (left) and Ryan

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