Manslaughter by Olivia Sterling sees the young British painter bring her playful figuration to a gruesome new tea party. Look once, and it’s a scarlet food fight of red wine and tomatoes, but stare closer, and any innocent bawdiness swiftly disappears for something more sinister – a plethora of art historical references inverted into a raucous manhunt, with a corpse of cake (featuring gummy candy nipples) at the heart of proceedings. From the bare buttocks of a white male, labeled for ownership and consumption, to a hacked-off and manacled hand, Sterling squirts cartoonish strawberry jam violence across her canvases to eerie effect. Is the eye staring through a fence a Peeping Tom, or a man hiding in fear? Or both?
“MANSLAUGHTER,” BY OLIVIA STERLING AT GUTS GALLERY, LONDON
Jethro Turner, 13 Apr 2022