Irene Hardwicke Olivieri
My Little Tranquilizers, 2008, oil on recycled redwood, 15 x 19 inches
Where Have you Been?, no details available
Helpless October, 2007-2008, oil on panel, 56 x 56 inches
My Favorite Skull, 2006, oil on board, 21 x 13 inches
My Favorite Skull, detail
Devil’s Trumpet, 2009, oil on panel, 57 x 57 inches
I drop everything when I see you, 2008 – 2009, oil on wood, 48 x 72 inches
Making You Lovely, no details available
Olivieri’s models come from folk art and surrealism, and her miniscule stream-of-consciousness texts often cover the bodies of her figures like delicate tattoos.
Born 1959 in Texas, Olivieri traveled throughout South and Central America as a teenager, becoming entranced with the Amazonian ecosystem. She studied art in Mexico, earned a B.F.A. from the University of Texas in Austin and, while attending graduate school at New York University, worked as a gardener and lecturer at the Cloisters (the medieval enclave of the Metropolitan Museum) and made drawings of neo-tropical palms at the New York Botanical Garden.She now lives in a solar-powered house in the high desert of central Oregon, sharing her world with ravens, badgers, lizards and a host of other creatures.
The handwritten texts of Olivieri’s paintings combine detailed descriptions of the appearance and habits of closely observed flora and fauna with personal musings. Barely visible in most reproductions, these texts are mesmerizing when you encounter the paintings themselves. The long process of reading pulls you deep into her universe. Rarely is the voice of a visual artist—not just her interests and preoccupations but her inflections and curious associations of ideas—so palpably present. ~ Gail Leggio