OLIVIA DAVIS was born in Paris and educated in Canada, England, Switzerland and France. Having grown up in a family of industrialists (her great grandfather was the engineer and scientist Auguste Rateau, inventor of the turbo compressor, and Rateau turbines), she attended art schools in Paris: the Atelier Farrey Art School and Centre d’Art et Technique Artisanale.
Her work on silk prepared the ground for her perception of the world as a block of colours and shapes. In the past, Olivia’s silk paintings have been exhibited in the USA, Canada, Mexico and France. Not content with the two dimensional feel of silk painting, Olivia started to expand her appreciation of other artistic media, including pastels which allowed a more flowing and more subtle expression, and she turned her hand to Interior Design and Public Art.
The process of her development across and through these quite different media has resulted in the intriguing blend of subtlety and brashness which is manifested in her current collection of paintings in acrylic and mixed media, on canvas. She has always been intrigued by the industrial world. Her earliest memory of iconic pieces of engineering are the Quebec Bridge and the Eiffel Tower, which inspired her vision.
The fascinating environment of the world of Motor Sport and specially Formula One offers fertile ground for exploring the balance between mechanical shapes and the designers and drivers who set them in motion. The result is a dynamic cocktail of colours and industrial shapes which, through their sensitive juxtaposition, draws the viewer into an exciting world.
Olivia was nominated for the SPORTS ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD 2007 from the ASAMA in the United States, Olivia was the only woman among the six finalists.
BLACK ON BLACK SERIES
When you think of the colour black, what does it bring to mind?
Over the centuries, the colour black has held many negative meanings, often associated with darkness, death, evil magic, and mourning. However, it has also long represented wealth, elegance, and power - worn by important members of society and revered by the fashionable elite. It was one of the first pigments used in art, in Neolithic cave paintings. The painter Renoir even called black 'the queen of all colours', providing nuance, light and space.
The colour black has long been a feature of my art. Prior to my Black on Black series, I spent many years working with Formula One as my main subject. Here, the black and white checkered flag was always central to my work. It's more than just a flag. In the depths of the white and black lies so many stories and emotions. It encapsulates triumph and loss, determination and journeys followed, all within two simple colours. I wanted to explore these colours more and see what else I could unpack in the depths of the black and white of the light that interacts with the surface of my work.
Developing this series, I first only allowed myself to paint with black; exploring this queen of colours and bringing together my more abstract and modern style with this ancient pigment. I wanted to achieve a multi-textured piece, both in touch and visual perception, that could bring a multi-faceted experience to the observer. The raised dots, drops of paint delicately added layer by layer, add texture and volume against the layers, washes, and circles of black.
I then wanted to explore what happens when a contrasting colour is added - piercing the blackness, adding another dimension and shifting the experience of black, catching the observer off guard. The black is no longer just black, but a reflection of colours. It moves. It lives. Light bounces off and plays against the varied surface. Different shapes and shadows appear, depending on how the light filters or flows onto the painting, and from where the viewer is standing. The raised dots are sometimes seen, and then not seen. And finally, I want to bring the viewer in to really experience the work - I defy anyone not to want to touch the bumpy surface, tactile art is a therapeutic pastime in its own right!
Given the fundamental, versatile nature of the colour black, this is a series suited to many interiors, contemporary and classic.