Oli Epp, Oxymoron @ Carl Kostyal

Oli Epp’s larger than life painting brings together new digital age concepts with a clinically executed aesthetic. What a trip. As soon as I witnessed a scroll of Epp’s paintings on Insta, situated in the panelled interior of Carl Kosytal of Saville Row, they went straight on the ‘to see’ list.

What may appear at first impression to be playful, sexualised characters quickly turn into villainous protagonists; their facial features set the tone as to communicate what is actually going on here. Epp’s works address a set of vices and the complexities that come from living in our contemporary 21st century. We see lust and greed represented through cake and oversized gold nuggets. Our love of consumption has been satirised and caricatured, subtly sprinkled with a wry poke at the art world itself. Brown smothered canvas walls could be either shit or chocolate in ‘Divorce Cake’, a half liberating half depressing reality, with more people entering into a tradition perhaps to be left in the past. A grinning solitary mouth with chocolate smothered teeth implies both satisfaction and malice involved in the receiving of divorce documents; the bride stands at the top of the cake, liberated.

‘Fools Gold’ equally communicates a cocktail mix of feelings and conflict. A female character swings across the canvas in a heist to dodge laser beams, clasping onto a tasty nugget for the taking. Air pod in one ear and tongue out hints at the values within our narcissistic, consumerist social media community. A sexually-charged female perhaps taking risks to get further up the food chain; she is willing to jump through hoops to get what she wants from society.

You can also draw a parallel between Epp’s series of works with the similarly trippy cult cartoon show ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ which confuses realistic mediums with fantasy. The cartoon’s bizarre narrative is represented by a humanised beverage cup, packet of chips and a spaghetti meatball. The crossing of these underdog fictional characters with the ‘real world’ is far from comforting but similarly addresses our existential anxieties and how superficially innocent graphics can bring out unnerving truths.

Get up and close to Epp’s painting and see how his application is immaculate as the Son of God’s conception. This only contributes towards his overall critique on our pursuit of perfection which ignites into a spiral of bad habits and unattractive traits. I am curious as to who has got up close and personal only to find a mirror of themselves. But for the rest of us, it may be more entertainment as we watch this oxymoronic society swallow itself whole.

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