Olivia Sterling parallels modes of othering through painting cropped domestic scenes. These scenes focus on blackness, whiteness, and racism's small indignities and violence through a "slapstick" sensibility.
Olivia Sterling parallels modes of othering through painting cropped domestic scenes. These scenes focus on blackness, whiteness, and racism’s small indignities and violence through a “slapstick” sensibility. Paintings are often populated with letters and lines, regularly indicating the nearest colour to draw attention to the inanity of the language of race. One might see a “white” hand accompanied by ‘p’, for pink or peach, in contrast to the supposedly superior, pure white, which takes the form of a sticky, liquid ooze.
Her paintings are often set in bathrooms, kitchens, and playgrounds, private or public areas — any place where racism’s macro- and microaggressions might occur. These locations also suggest a variety of transformations, from raw to cooked, dirty to clean, cool to burnt. Sterling believes this aligns with moments of othering and certain observed social phenomena like blackfishing or new modes of exoticization.
In reaction to growing up in a countryside town in England, Olivia Sterling’s paintings often reference British identity by containing specific icons of the British experience, ranging from Victoria sponge cakes, milk bottles, double cream, and Pink Panther biscuits to Girl Guides imagery and plug sockets. Through the use of these objects she wishes to bind her experience as a black woman to its inalienable Britishness, and to tether the paintings to a specific time and place.
B. 1996, Peterborough, England. Based in London, UK.
2015-2018 BA Fine Art, University of Derby
2018-2020 MA Painting, Royal College of Art
2021 White Bread, Cob Gallery, London, UK (forthcoming)
2021 Episodes, CCA Goldsmiths, London, UK (forthcoming)
2021 Selfhood, Berntson Bhattacharjee Gallery, London (forthcoming)2021 Safe as Milk, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh (forthcoming)
2020 Clutching at Straws, Volt, Eastbourne
2020 It Clings like a Leech, Guts Gallery, London
2020 A Cure for Nose Bleeds, Marriots Way, Reepham Norfolk
2018 Who is civilised? Gallery No.1, Repton
2020 Curated for Christmas, All Mouth x Bowes-Parris Gallery, London
2020 RCA Black History Online, David Lisbon, Online
2020 Love your symptom, but not too much, Blank Projects, Cape Town
2020 A Rudimentary Education, Art Lacuna, London
2020 London Grads Now, Saatchi Gallery, London
2020 Right Back at You, The Function Suite, London
2020 Begin Again, Guts Gallery, Online
2020 BLACK & WHITE, The Orange Garden, Online
2020 50/50, FOLD Gallery, London
2020 London’s New Contemporaries, A Space for Art, Hari Hotel London
2020 Materiality and Connection, curated by Joe Hill, RCA, Online
2020 Optimistic, Singular and New, curated by Jony Ive, RCA, Online
2020 Urgency, Wit and Rigour, curated by John Bloomfield, RCA, Online
2020 I Graduated From My Bedroom curated by Victor Wang, RCA, Online
2020 Slivers and Remnants curated by Esther Leslie, RCA, Online
2020 RCA2020, RCA, Online
2020 Tomorrow: London, White Cube, Online
2020 Without a Painter, Fitzrovia Gallery, London
2020 Snapshot, RCA Hockney Gallery, London
2019 Meet Me in the Kitchen, UCA Farnham, Surrey
2019 Got it for Cheap, House of Vans, London
2019 Painting from the Other Side, Dyson Gallery, London
2018 WIP, Sackler, RCA Battersea
2018 Britannia Mill, Derby
2017 Smoke and Mirrors, Riverlights, Derby, England
2016 Ilam, Staffordshire
2014 Earth without Art, Spalding, England
2020 HQI Summer residency, London
2016 Extended Contexts, National Trust IIam, England
2020 HoP Around with Alexandria Smith, RCA, London
2020 Without a Painter in Conversation with Bolane Tajudeen, London
2019 Artist Talk, UCA Farnham
2018 Pro Vice-Chancellor / Dean's Award 2018 Degree Show Exhibition
Top Ten Shows from the UK and IrelandMimi Chu, Frieze, 12 Feb 2021
OLIVIA STERLING INTERVIEW ON SHE CURATESMOLLIE E BARNES, SHE CURATES, 13 Jan 2021
ON VIEW BY FLASH ART: “It’s 2020 For F*ck Sake” Guts Gallery and Soft Punk / LondonFlash Art , 11 Dec 2020
Olivia Sterling paints nostalgia-filled pieces to deconstruct complex issues of otheringLucy Bourton, It's Nice That, 6 Nov 2020
IT’S 2020 FOR F*CK SAKEART PLUGGED, ART PLUGGED, 30 Sep 2020
Begin Again is the virtual art exhibition tackling racial inequalityGunseli Yalcinkaya, Dazed , 14 Aug 2020
Scrap that, lets begin againTJ Sidhu, The Face, 13 Aug 2020
Begin Again: The online exhibition challenging austerity and racial oppressionScarlett Baker , Love Magazine, 13 Aug 2020
WHEN SHIT HITS THE FAN AGAINFOR ARTISTS BY ARTISTS, 1 NIGHT ONLY. 4 Feb - 4 Mar 2021Through the invitation extended to established artists into the exhibition. We are hoping to reinstate a balance of power. Allowing established artists to shoulder emerging artists. 50% of sales of works sold by an established artist, will be distributed entirely to all the emerging artists involved. This redistribution of wealth offers a new outlook and model that is fundamentally for artists, by artists, creating an alternative system of support.
IT CLINGS LIKE A LEECHA Debut Solo Show by Olivia Sterling | It's 2020 For F*ck Sake – A Thirteen Artist, Back-to-Back Solo Exhibition Marathon 22 - 26 Oct 2020A Debut Solo Show by Olivia Sterling as part of the It's 2020 For F*ck Sake Exhibition Marathon
BEGIN AGAINAs society shifts, the art world shifts. We are on the cusp of change. 13 - 27 Aug 2020This is a time to stop, reflect, create dialogue, and put our words into positive action. To begin again we must shoulder each other, listen to each other, work together and collectively change together. As the newest generation of art collectors, we urge you to collect from this exhibition. The revenue made will support The Free Black University and the newest generation of artists.
to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action; commence; start
once more; another time; anew; in addition
With many thanks to Lotte Andersen for her continuous support throughout this exhibition, and to Pallas Citroen, Director of The Bomb Factory Art Foundation. Who is kindly providing a free gallery space as part of The Guts Prize.