'Chaos Lilies' - Oliver Scarlin

Collection: 'Chaos Lilies' - Oliver Scarlin

Chaos Lilies
Oliver Scarlin
20.03.24 - 27.04.24

‘Chaos Lilies’ by Oliver Scarlin is an insightful exploration into the nuanced complexities of selfhood, queerness, and community. Navigating the liminal space between societal perception and personal authenticity, Scarlin’s practice enriches an otherwise ordinary tapestry of life with thoughtful intention. Through a collection of portraits and still lives, this exhibition captures true moments of connection found in an increasingly fragmented world.

Although painted from life and grounded in the tangible, this body of work expands on the artist’s previous solo presentation where he subconsciously delved into a more dreamlike distillation of his representational style. This point of departure elevates the mundane to offer an almost ethereal consideration of the complexity of being.

Scarlins’ repetition and revisitation of subject matter over time allows for the cultivation of intimate relationships between artist, subject and viewer. It is these recurring objects placed in meticulously composed still lives that serve as altars to domesticity and identity, as the artist transforms seemingly everyday scenes with his brush of magical realism.

Appearing in multiple paintings, a sentimental penny whistle contrasts with the humble bone handle kitchen knife- a utilitarian object that pervades the collective South African memory - invoking a sense of nostalgia and inviting viewers to connect with the powerful crucible that is the domestic landscape. Water emerges as a recurring substrate for Scarlins’ reflections as the ornate ripples that lap around his ceramic figures echo across the waters in ‘Saadiq (Ripples)’. It is this symbolic representation of form, colour and perspective that conveys what lies beneath the surface both personally and within the social milieu.

These vividly-hued works of pink, green, turquoise and purple fuse the individual, the real, and the imaginary to create an intrinsically personal space for belonging. By foregrounding the emotional, and at times physical, intimacies between artist and sitter, the exhibition underscores the significance of community as a locus of connection and belonging within broader contemporary society.

Oliver Scarlin continues to carve out a vantage point from which viewers can intimately witness an embodiment of queerness that centres authenticity while offering a moment to ruminate on the universal intimacy that is being seen.

Works on exhibition

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