Olivier Deprez is an observer of our suburban environments, which he dissects and analyses through his drawings and paintings. Vital to his approach is the examination of structures in images, their meaning and in particular the power structures inscribed in them.
By meditating on modern suburbia his work invites the spectator to dialogue with this very large but neglected part of our society. The vast majority of people nowadays live in suburban areas. His work is about noticing this new environment for mankind, which is so obvious it is overlooked in our iconographies.
The basis for his images lies in sketches and notes made on various locations. These places remain as such recognizable but they are never translated directly into paint. Through a number of studies the artist flattens out small details, so that his images acquire a strange anonymity. The goal is not physical likeness, but the selection of certain key visual elements. Rather than simply recreating he is highlighting the underlying geometry of forms by playing with abstraction, colour and perspective.
Not every sketch is eventually converted into a painting. Sometimes they waver in their developing phase and evolve into autonomous drawings. Or else they form the motive for a new project. Most of his still lives originate from the drawing board. Objects are stripped from their original context and inserted into an artificial setting. They become archetypes or symbols used in a world that is not their own.
By creating a subtle balance between description and abstraction in his works (drawings and paintings) he is challenging our current understanding of suburbia as to provoke a reconsideration of these al to familiar places and the objects that inhabit it.
BETWEEN THE LINES
"Coloring outside the lines" and "reading between the lines" are nothing but proverbs when confronted with the subtle works of art from the series "Between the lines". Painter Olivier Deprez, a graduate from the Royal Academy for Fine Arts in Ghent, positions himself within contemporary Belgian painting through his neo-symbolist figurative imagery. The recycling of the everyday image is subtly deconstructed through his peculiar pictorialism by using intuitively sketched lines. This freedom of sketching gives him the opportunity to reveal a surprising, mystical reality that ostensibly refers to a recognizable reality. The construction of desolate contexts, endless perspectives or meticulous still lives, challenge him as a painter to remain vigilant for the artwork in it fundamental materialized form. The repetition of certain images, in drawings or paintings, the far-reaching search for the perfect use of colors, characterize his artistic interests and métier. The Latin inter-esse could be his vital urge, this being in between things, being "between the lines". (text by Sven Vanderstichelen)
These are the scenes of everyday life: groups of young people gather to dispel their boredom, commuters are leaving to work, a mother takes her baby out for his daily walk...
The images are familiar. They are seen day after day, week after week, although seeing in this context is relative. One can pass heedlessly by without any sense of involvement: these scenes form nothing more than the décor of modern life. In this appearance they are recalled in the oeuvre of Olivier Deprez. Anonymously and often neutrally depicted, they are assigned the statute of a vague memory.
The work of Deprez radiates melancholy. Each time, the artist returns to that same "evanescent" reality, without emphasizing, without dramatizing. His paintings are never enclosed by their own emotions. The surface is dominated by coolness, an air of distance. The perspective of each work is consequently detached, as from a witness aside.
But if Deprez' paintings register this detachment, they do so to counteract, as bright green tints and a fiery red are introduced into their surface. The flattened images are in that way systematically being revived as to brutalise the mechanized traffic of the modern person. The work of Olivier Deprez pits itself against the final alienation of human existence. From this point of view it is also significant that the artist ended up in figurative painting - better suited than digital media (photography and film) to record the facts as well as evoking human emotions.(text by Bjorn Scherlippens)