Olivier Larivière (Saint Germain-en-Laye, France, 1978) lives and works in Montreuil, a suburb of Paris. His first solo exhibition in Roberto Polo Gallery, Hic et Nunc, comprises 10 recent oil paintings on canvas. Larivière’s work opens before us like plays staged at night in empty lots, in city suburbs at the edge of nowhere—the places seem familiar to us, undoubtedly because they are interchangeable with our own. Adults, adolescents, children, and stray animals find themselves there mysteriously, surrounded by furniture, objects, and dilapidated vehicles that recur from one canvas to another without connecting links. These beings and things have been gathered according to the laws of chance, or necessity.
Fascinated by old and contemporary masters, such as Velázquez, Titian, and Delacroix, as well as by Lucian Freud and Eric Fischl, Larivière’s inspiration is mostly drawn both from bric-a-brac of personal photographs and images borrowed from the immense web of Internet. Classified and listed, that image well becomes manna of abundance from which the artist sources his work.
According to Larivière, all his recent paintings now in Roberto Polo Gallery also contain a more personal source: “The memory of my mother stopping in the street to scrutinise the junk and antiques proposed by dealers has partly nurtured this series where the protagonists are staged like and with furniture and objects in unidentifiable places. My mother’s figure appears for the first time in these paintings.”
Larivière further says: “I also play with recurrent characters, objects, and situations from one painting to another, thus deliberately questioning the narrative function in painting. My work possesses a cinematic aspect drawn from my passion and fascination for, among others, the film masterpiece Last Year at Marienbad directed by Alain Resnais and written by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Although I am inspired by the history of painting, I do not quote it directly. Contrary to most of the old masters, I line myself with Wim Wenders, Theodoros Angelopoulos, and Gus Van Sant, all film directors fascinated by the anti-hero, the ordinary person in search of identity, not the larger than life hero.”
Beyond sources of inspiration, Larivière's work focuses on life. The artist confides: “My focus for years continues to be the transient nature of human life and the dichotomy between Epicureanism and asceticism.”
Aligned with the contemporary trend of dream-like realism, allusive in spite of its brutal immediacy, Olivier Larivière's paintings immerse us in an intimate universe played-out by anonymous characters, whose attitudes and environment question our own lives and reach our profoundest inner selves to remind us of our own truths and untruths.