Vital spontaneity, the esprit of the South, but above all felt exuberance almost literally splashes from the work of Guy Olivier (Maastricht, 1964). In the scenes on his canvases – whether portraits of salaciously self-conscious young women or of inebriated night owls who have suddenly seen the light or love, of out-of-control dinners or Fellini-esque circus scenes – the theatrical exuberance of life is celebrated everywhere on canvas and paper. Bis geht nicht mehr.
Everywhere you attend exhibitions of work by Guy Olivier with an old-fashioned vernissage, the air vibrates and shudders between visitors’ eyes and the variegated canvas. Guy succeeds in applying his wonderful sense of color and vital and burgundy joie de vivre directly to the canvas and thus directly to the viewer. That natural coming across skill – as well as his distinguished, almost classical-looking handwriting – seems to come straight from the heart of the tube and of the artist.
I have experienced many vernissages with works by Dutch artist Guy Olivier, who lives and works in Amsterdam. In doing so, I have always watched the people coming in carefully. Never have I seen anyone walk by the works without amazement, admiration or wide-eyed wonder. That has to do with their explicit presence, of course, but it’s mostly because of the immediate appearance of the canvases. It grabs visitors by the throat, as it were, and makes it impossible for them to pass by indifferently.
Guy Olivier was born in 1964 in the heart of Maastricht. As the son of a pastry chef, it was natural for him to study cooking in Antwerp, but the artistic urge to create drawn menus soon emerged. Successfully taking various courses in graphics and painting, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the life lessons that Maastricht and then Amsterdam offer him. Already then, among the beautifully written enumerations of courses and dishes, exotic scenes of women dipping their derrières into crystal champagne flûtes with floundering jaretelle legs and oysters, a picture of a blissful-looking bovine with on its flanks the numbered pieces of meat with butcher’s names, the baroque skirts of drunken tarts, emerge. These so-called “plats du jour” increasingly attracted the attention of diners in Amsterdam restaurants and contributed to his artistic breakthrough in 1996.