Oli Goldsmith – Visuality InScribing Pop – By John K. Grande

Rather than fixating on information overload, Oli Goldsmith plays with the overload… Information, signals, cues, stickies, child-like drawings and scribbles, hybridized cartoon characters and even the more recognizable items like Rupert the Bear all become equal collaborators in Goldsmith’s particularized image particles. And it comes together like a crazy quilt from the digital age.

In fact, Oli Goldsmith’s multi-media artworks are anachronisms of the digital age. His art is anything but profound, instead playful, with increasing and decreasing reverberations, like sound once amplified, twice muffled, the third time – enhanced.


There is an innocence to the rephrasing, the incantational canning and cutting to these paintings. They are like film cells, and have tiny squares, and tiny cubes… each exists in a larger “map” of images and builds a visual language, a very personal and vernacular iconography that nevertheless references Pop culture in a sublime and surreal way. All this out of focus! Maybe there is not even a lense on Goldsmith’s eye it has so many eyes, like a fly’s eye! It’s all hieroglyphics … this inscripted visual scripting. It a plane of discovery, where familiar points of reference slowly disappear, and occasionally and surprisingly reappear, suggesting an illusion – this state of being – that of our Pop culture.

Oli Goldsmith is an artist who recombines the visual vernacular of the cut and paste, all this web-based waste, while integrating faint echoes of the comic book genre, evolving it all into a visualized mantra. Using the signology of Pop culture, and dislocating and regenerating each image values by multiplying it or them, and then placing all of this in a jigsaw puzzle of endlessly novel associations, Oli Goldsmith has created a mini-portrait replete with mini- creatures, hybrid bio-forms, the detritus of the age of distraction we all grew up with. Indeed, Oli Goldsmith suggests there is no focus to our culture, only a dull and instinctual thudding and trodding through the icon mud field of the media push. Oli does this with through the quiet placement of images, of drawn signals, of icons. And the art is in the placement, like Kurt Schwitters Dada and Surrealist collages.

The emotional rescue we find in Oli Goldsmith’s collage paintings is expressionist like a George Grosz ink drawing. These paintings scream out at you about the incredible emptiness of our civilization, and do so like Peter Blake who made the Beatles St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. The canvas becomes the padded wall. And like Blake, Oli Goldsmith produced the Juno award nominated

album cover Spiritual Machines (2000) for Our Lady Peace. Both artists – Blake and Goldsmith – share a propensity for the Pop vernacular, and the real Surrealism that exists in a culture of dislocation – where images sit in real space as billboards, or in our minds as jpgs emailed from God Knows Where.

Goldsmith’s generation is all the more aware media savvy of the cloning, the reframing and repurposing of of images, of people, and the layering of images that bleed into each other varies from sharp outlinings, to vague shadows. The style is enigmatic and intentional, vivid too. The words drawn from the times we live in like Sensor, Join US, Eye, Band Aid Brother, token lawn, Rodent Cloning, Know your Fire Drill, all these scrawled wordings paraphrase the commercial clichés we call culture. And one or two words like Growth have been excised and crossed out… All this spirit recalls Toronto-based John Scott’s text written with a nail on the mat black Trans-Am Apocalypse…

It’s an outsiders inside track on living in an age of conservatism and neo-Liberalism… Where to go? Into the ancient, for Oli Goldsmith has capture a sense of the symbolic in the way he understands visual vernacular like living language can evolve, change, doesn’t have to be

static. Everything can be played with. And can represent the impossibility of representation…

To be original is to borrow and build a flow or dynamic out of that image flow. Once in a while there are traces of Jean- Michel Basquiat, in the way layers achieve a density, and in the fact real elements and textures recombine under the surface.

These collage paintings embrace relativity and the disappearance of a visual hierarchy, while equally telling a tale of a soul, one soul, Oli Goldsmith’s. In fact this field of dreams is like a camera with no lens, where the artist’s eye instead has many eyes, like a fly’s, and all this to say – inner memory exists beyond the image or the distraction,
And collapsing imagery onto a flat plane, a plane of many layers, with many facets, is a fun way of searching and looking, and in so doing, discovering self and other.

– John K. Grande