Scott Olson’s painting practice is rooted in a deep fascination with painting’s materials, tools, and history, but also in performance, music, and improvisation. Through a process involving layering and removing through the use of glazes, masking, and scraping, the composition becomes an index of his maneuvers; a deliberate record of his process to
which the viewer becomes witness.
Olson is particularly interested in the art of tool-making and will often forgo the use of traditional brushes and palettes, opting instead for unconventional tools that he collects or constructs for their unique mark-making potential. His involvement in the production and transformation of his materials comes out of his interest in science and alchemy and the questions these disciplines raise about the “literalness” of a work and the power of such material properties to dictate the final outcome of a painting. His paintings work against final, realized forms and instead suggest a state of openness and evolution, where materials and forms seem to unfold, perform and dissolve before the viewer’s eyes. Utilizing a number of different supports including canvas or linen, fiberboard and marble dust panel, Olson plays with the notion of surface and framing as constructs in his work, at times, employing handmade frames and thick borders of unpainted surface around a central painted field that act as both a physical edge to the painting and call attention to its nature as both an image and an object.