artnet international

Professor Sasha Grishin AM, FAHA writes "As a child I read Gerald Durrell’s My family and Other Animals, and that together with his A Zoo in my Luggage, These became some of my childhood favourite books. When I was told that John Olsen wanted to call his new exhibition Myself and Other Animals, this association immediately came to mind. In both there is a common sense of fun, passion and a serious commitment and empathy with all living creatures: for both Durrell and Olsen animals are not humanised mannequins, but they are treated with the dignity and respect that many others accord only to people.  Frogs, giraffes, monkeys and white rhinos complement the landscape paintings.  In an Olsen landscape, add water and the whole environment bursts into a festive polyphony of fecundity with waterways teaming with life and jumping with energy. Olsen creates landscapes which are good enough to eat, creating an ambiguity between a culinary feast and a festive landscape.  These paintings radiate with light and energy and with a sense of profound spirituality. It would not be an Olsen exhibition without frogs ... At one time Olsen observed: "The frog is just as important as the eagle or the tiger; every movement is connected to the primary source of life".This is one part of the beauty of Olsen’s microcosm, this interconnectedness of all living creatures.  The other part is his sense of humour and the conviction that great art can also be fun"  (introduction to Metro Gallery John Olsen Myself and Other Animals 2014)