Guillaume Ollivier Invites You Into a World of ‘Cheap Thrills & Tons of Smoke for Maximum Joy'

Source Credit:  Content and images by HYPEBEAST.  Read the original article - https://hypebeast.com/2024/3/guillaume-ollivier-control-gallery-exhibition-interview

Figaro Bistrot isn’t the most flashy of restaurants. The decor isn’t over-the-top to resemble a high-end destination in Paris and there isn’t a particular dish that drives in flocks of TikTok influencers and foodies. Nor is it, in French standards at least, the most French of restaurants. The menu is a simple cross between Franco-US fare: pain et fromage, eggs benedict, croque monsieur, avo toast. Regardless, Figaro is always packed. Locals, hipsters and the so-called intelligentsia of the city flock to its small selection of outdoor seating at all times of the day for what is a genuine slice of the French capital — a place to see and be seen, to experience a buzz of the high street (something lacking in LA), eat quick bites (that take hours to consume) and really, a cafe to get a good cup of joe.

“It was a shock to the system,” Guillaume Ollivier tells Hypeart, describing the transition from the quaint forest-side home he grew up on the outskirts of Paris to the “chaos” of his new home in LA . Born in Paris, Ollivier moved to LA during his teen years where he lives and works to this day. We met a few weeks after the buzzing, but undoubtedly tiresome Art Week in the City of Angels, which featured no shortage of events, including Frieze and Felix, along with the myriad exhibitions and pop-up parties orbiting the fairs. As the owner of Good Mother Gallery in DTLA and an emerging artist in his own right, Ollivier recently opened a new solo exhibition at CONTROL Gallery on La Brea, entitled Cheap Thrills & Tons of Smoke For Maximum Joy.

Ollivier works in fragments — drawing from the thousands of images on his iPhone to create intensely collaged paintings, where lowriders, carousel rides, slot machines and buffalo clash to disorienting levels. “It plays into “French garden theory” which is a style of landscaping based on imposing order or control over nature,” he says, adding, “I like focusing on the relationships people have with their environment and how we connect with the things around us. Taking simple objects and making them meaningful. And I like creating artwork that reinforces our shared identity.”

You can stare for hours at any one of his paintings, struggle to find meaning, yet still find your curiosity wheel spinning endlessly, like a roulette table offering infinite possibilities. “It’s kind of like piecing together a puzzle,” Ollivier adds, “where you don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like until it’s done.” To make sense of his dizzyingly engaging artwork, Hypeart sat down with Ollivier at arguably the most French restaurant in LA to discuss his new solo show, currently on view at CONTROL until April 13, and how he manages to effectively switch hats from gallerist to artist and back again.

What were your early forays into art? Basically the works, movements, artists that left a big impact on you in hindsight?

Art started for me with comics. I remember my dad drawing comics and selling comic books. Imagine this: no TV, just tons of Belgian and French comics like Tintin, Gaston Lagaffe, and Asterix. They were my gateway into pictures and storytelling through art, and also how I picked up English. Then, moving to the US, I got sucked into the world of graffiti when I was pretty young. And the friends I made there changed my life. Studying advertising was like a lightbulb moment: Art and ads, they kind of clicked together. I started painting murals in bars, gyms and restaurants, making a bit of cash, and feeling like, ‘Yeah, I could do this for a while.’ Then I met these billboard painters in LA, and I took a serious dive into painting. They showed me the ropes with oil paint, and I eventually got into this whole studio practice. Advertising, Land Art, Pop Art and classical influences like the Hudson River School all mixed into my evolving style. Artists like Daniel Antelo, Anemal, Cormac and all my friends have left huge impacts on my life.

How about the dichotomy of your French roots, as opposed to growing up in LA as well?

It was a trip — from this quiet life next to a forest to the chaos of LA, it was a shock to the system. Somehow, painting became my way of fitting in, and making sense of things. LA and Paris couldn’t be more different, art-wise, but I managed to draw from both. I started seeing the little things, like how different the cars looked or the way faucets worked. Stuff I never thought twice about back in Paris. These things eventually popped up in my art, turning into symbols of excess and beauty. The comic artists in France were my heroes, and then there was the American art scene that just threw me into a whole new loop. It was all about finding the awesome in the everyday.

While LA has its own place within art history, France is arguable the Mecca for much of the art world. Can you talk about how both (LA/French art history) continue to play a role within your work?

Growing up, French comics were the coolest thing to me. Moving to LA, I got hit with this whole new art scene vibe — from street art to those massive outdoor advertising campaigns. My French side loved the classics, the Monets, Cezanne and Delacroix, but LA taught me art could be bigger and louder. It’s like I started with these detailed, funny comics and then got thrown into a world where everything was bold and in your face. Both worlds keep colliding in my work, mixing the detailed storytelling of my childhood comics with the punchy visuals I’ve come to love in the US.

How would you define your art practice?

My art is about capturing moments and experiences, then arranging them in a way that feels controlled. It’s like making sense of the chaos, or compensating for lack of control. It’s plays into “French garden theory” which is a style of landscaping based on imposing order or control over nature. That’s why I paint on rectangles or symmetrical canvasses. I like focusing on the relationships people have with their environment and how we connect with the things around us. Taking simple objects and making them meaningful. And I like creating artwork that reinforces our shared identity.

Your paintings are riddled with iconography from the American West, muscle car culture and the slot machines found in casinos. Can you talk about the messages you underpin in your new show at CONTROL Gallery?

My recent show at CONTROL Gallery was an exploration of the psyche through landscapes, and obsessions. The imagery of the American West, muscle cars, and slot machines isn’t just a visual feast. I like that term “visual feast”, but the work is a commentary on our culture of excess and desire. Everything is over the top and mixed together in a hilarious way. The show was aimed to engage in a way that was fun and critical, inviting us to reconsider our relationships with the objects and desires that drive modern life. I wanted to have a discussion about consumption, identity, and the ways art can mirror society and its trends. It’s about finding the fun and beauty in the madness.

How does one of the paintings start from early idea to final execution?

Starting a painting is pretty spontaneous for me. I snap photos of anything that catches my eye, like a funky pattern on a motel carpet or a detail in the reflection of the corner store. These random bits and pieces from my life get stored up until they start to click together. It’s kind of like piecing together a puzzle where you don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like until it’s done. Then it’s all about playing around with those images, mixing them up until they start to tell a story. Similar to painting a mural, I like painting after everything is pre-designed. I can jump on the canvas and just paint and go into a meditative state. Bringing all those random moments to life.

You’re also the owner of Good Mother Gallery in LA? Can you talk about constantly switching hats between gallerist and artist?

Man, It’s a wild ride, flipping between being in the zone painting and then dealing with the gallery. Sometimes I’m running around all day literally switching hats from paint clothes to office clothes. But it’s cool. It’s hectic sure, but it’s also pretty rewarding. Being able to juggle both, to be part of the art scene from both sides, it’s intense. And I’m super stoked to be in a spot where I can help my friends and see friends succeed. It’s a bit of a balancing act, managing shows and sometimes jumping in to lend a hand with a brush or whatever’s needed. It’s taught me to see the art world from all angles. Creating it, sharing it, and dealing it. Mad respect for anyone running a gallery, it’s tough. But being part of this community, seeing all the support and drive, it’s humbling. I’m here for it all, bringing artists together, celebrating the work, and keeping the energy flowing.

What else is in store that we can look forward to from Guillaume the artist and Guillaume the gallerist in 2024?

We’ve got big plans for the gallery in the fall and an amazing lineup of shows coming. I’m looking forward to working with a bunch of our Oakland artists here in LA and helping them move up the ladder. I’m diving deeper into my own work as well, trying to keep it real, and just enjoying the ride. Can’t wait to see where it all takes us.


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Source Credit:  Content and images by HYPEBEAST.  Read the original article - https://hypebeast.com/2024/3/guillaume-ollivier-control-gallery-exhibition-interview

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