In the studio

Jacco Olivier

Amsterdam, NL

Interview with
Jacco Olivier

Jacco Olivier paints with light. With his beautiful, silent melancholic works, he occupies an exceptional position in painting.

In the work of Jacco Olivier (1972, Goes, The Netherlands) painting and video art fuse together as one. Olivier began his career painting large canvases. In order to understand his own painting methods, he started taking photographs of parts of the painting. As a result, an animation emerged by putting the images in sequence: a painted story.

From then on, Olivier started painting on smaller formats while photographing parts of it which he assembles and places as layers. This results in sometimes monumental projections as well as small films projected on the wall. We asked Jacco Olivier about his work and the special edition he made for the AkzoNobel Art Foundation.

Where did you grow up and where were you trained?

I grew up in Kloetinge, Zeeland, and attended the art academy in Den Bosch followed by the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam for 2 years.

How do you start a new work?

First I need to be intrigued by something, which can sometimes take a while, I want to be triggered. In the very beginning, I just try out a color and see what happens. I add layers until I create something different from what I expected in the first place and I respond to that, or not, until I feel it is finished.

Is there such a thing as an average working day for you in terms of layout and activities?

I really enjoy having a similar routine: Tidy up a bit in the morning, check my email and paint in the afternoon. I also love going to my studio at night, as well as during the weekend, when possible.

Can you describe your studio for us?

I have a studio in an old school building on a canal in Amsterdam, a 10-minute walk from my house. Not very big, 50 m2 but nice and high, 4.5 meters. Practically I do not really need that height, but it feels great!

You work with both paint and digital means to create new work. How did this come about?

While painting, the most beautiful things often happen on the edges of a painting, or on a very small piece somewhere in a corner. Or when I just wipe my brush. I also enjoy taking pictures of the different stages a painting goes through. By doing so, I can preserve the openness that is still present during the first steps of a painting. When looking through these photographs on the computer, I crop out pieces, zoom in on them or superimpose them. That’s how a new work is created.

When is a work finished for you?

When the money is in my account - oh no, that's an old joke. 😉
The work is done when I don't change it anymore.

Can you tell us something about the painting and speciale edition for Collect the Collection: Terra Incognita (2019)?

That naturalness that has accidentally fallen or casually wiped-off paint, that I see in my photographs is difficult to capture in a large canvas, even though I want to try it. With ‘Terra Incognita’ I tried that by painting the light-colored areas opaque and placing dark colored layers on top of them that are very open and transparent.

I especially do not want to worry about brushstrokes or handwriting, with the sole aim of creating a bright color composition. When that is done, the canvas no longer has a top or bottom, which means it could also hang upside down. By inserting a figure, in this case a dog, the painting is grounded and it becomes even more spatial. Now it looks like a landscape.

Are there certain themes that recur more often in your work?

I think so, but maybe I can't judge it properly myself. I think human incapacity is a theme.

Does it seem special to you if AkzoNobel employees will soon have a work of yours on your wall at home?

For sure! I believe that if you have a small edition of the work at home, you will see the actual large painting differently. I also feel quite honored knowing that someone wants to have my work at their home.

More in general, AkzoNobel can be proud of their corporate collection; it's museum-like and culturally important for the Netherlands.

Jacco Olivier was educated at the School of Art and Design in Den Bosch and at the Rijksakademie van visual arts, Amsterdam. He has had solo exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Marianne Boesky (New York), Galerie Ron Mandos (Amsterdam), Galerie der Stadt Backnang (Germany), GEM (The Hague), Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech ( Blacksburg USA), New York City Center, curated by the New Museum (New York), Galerie Thomas Schulte (Berin), Victoria Miro Gallery (London). His work is included in countless collections, both nationally and internationally. Currently two video works can be seen in Museum Voorlinden.

Edition information:

Jacco Olivier, Terra Incognita (2019),
27 x 42 cm, vibrant pigment print, edition of 50,
special AkzoNobel price: € 475 without frame, € 610 with frame and artglass.
You can order the edition in the webshop

Works for sale of Jacco Olivier

Jacco Olivier Terra Incognita (2019)