Bernard Ollis painting.jpg

Marrakech bathroom

Location: Harvey Galleries

ARTIST: Bernard Ollis



SIZE:  51 x 41cm (Frame 55 x 45cm)

Fixed Price: $3,000AUD

Bernard Ollis is one of those painters who elude easy categorization. This is at best a mixed blessing, because art historians love to be able to define an artist as an expressionist, a realist, a surrealist, or some plausible combination. Ollis is a little of each, but ultimately none of the above. He is a figurative painter, but like most established artists is willing to admit that all art is abstract. He is a painter of people, but with none of the angst and pessimism that seem to be standard features of those artists who spend their careers studying the Human Condition. There is a lot of humour in Ollis’s work, but none of the smug, all-pervasive irony beloved of the Postmodernists. He is, in short, an awkward proposition, and his paintings revel in a kind of studied awkwardness. Ollis is a narrative painter, but each picture is nothing more than a fragment. He will begin with a simple setting such as a bedroom, a street, or a patio, and gradually add the dramatis personae and details. A work develops its own momentum, with objects, people or animals multiplying as if by spontaneous generation. While Ollis may begin with a specific idea, by the time the painting is finished it has usually metamorphosed into something quite different


Bernard Ollis lives and works between Sydney and Paris. Born in Bath, England, he is a graduate of Cardiff College of Art and Design, Wales and received his Master of Art (Painting) from the Royal College of Art, London, where he was tutored by David Hockney, R. B. Kitaj, and Sir Peter Blake amongst many others. Moving to Australia in 1976 Bernard lectured at the University Northern Territory and La Trobe University, Victoria before being appointed Head of Painting at the National Art School in 1996. He is the former Director of the National Art School, Sydney (1997-2008). He has had over 50 solo exhibitions since 1972 and participated in exhibitions throughout Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Asia. He has undertaken residencies at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris (1975), the Australian Embassy residence in Cairo, Egypt (on special invitation of the Australian Ambassador), Antarctica with the Mawson’s Hut Foundation and most recently as artist in residence in Zhouzhang province China 2015.