"My work is much involved with my love of the paint itself — with layering it, with building textures, etc. all this is striving for a sensual visual beauty. Color is my first language. I have fun with personification as well as improbabilities of scale. My work is heavily influenced thematically by my environment, both physical and spiritual.
I work in connected series of paintings. Past series have reflected a year I spent in Montana, as well as aspects of California urban/tensions. My move to NYC for the Marie Walsh Studio space inspired a series, I refer to as “The Aesthetics of Pollution.” This theme deals with confrontation of nature versus the urban assault, gridlock in streams and skyscrapers instead of cliffs on the sides, with extinct and endangered indigenous animals, with bison up against skyscrapers, etc., etc. I was a recipient of the World Views residency (studio space at the former World Trade Center). The paintings while in residence reflected the many fabric patterns of architecture and gridlock. The experience of observing NYC from a highly elevated viewpoint is similar to studying an organism under a microscope. My painting following my LMCC residency were involved with superimposing volcanic activity in the Hudson. This was a result of being from California and using volcanoes as a metaphor for the competitiveness of the Manhattan area. After 911 I put those paintings aside and focused on the luminosity of night light, movement of bridges, complicated spooky images under expressways and geysers on the roads. This brings up to my most recent work, which is involved with the themes of “Extreme Interiors.” I visited a computer lab and was excited by the complexity of overlapping wires, equipment, robots… I felt this is like my cityscapes a total living system.
Shortly after the lab inspiration I attended an artist residency in Spain. From this experience I was influenced by the masterpieces of Moorish architecture as well as Gaudi’s innovative work. Also, my piece “Lamb” was influenced by Francisco de Zurbaran. My painting depicts the good life, a lavish Manhattan rooftop scene (incorporating Moorish architecture) in juxtaposition to coffins of war dead and a sacrificial lamb on a couch. The painting suggests the pleasure of our lives in contrast to the suffering which always persists somewhere on our planet.
In my painting “Coliseum of Chaos” the source is several coliseums. I was listening to NPR news while working (car bombs, people killed here & there on & on) & thinking how wonderful that we humans can design such great structures but how tragic we can’t stop killing & torturing each other. I included that imagery within the Coliseum painting.
These interior themes can be very broad. The boundaries between inside and outside spaces become blurred with images intruding into and overlapping one another. I am continuing with paintings of landscape in interiors and landscape as architecture, it’s exciting where this is taking my work."
Olive Ayhens, 2008