Cursive I(Detail) Collage, Mixed Media on Paper, 30” x 22”, 2015

Cursive I (Detail)
Collage, Mixed Media on Paper,
30” x 22”,


“Every intelligent painter carries the whole culture of modern painting in his head. It is the real subject, of which everything he paints is both a homage and a critique…” – Robert Motherwell, From the Culture category.


The expressive and exploratory nature of collage historically offers an experimental space to incorporate multiple visual languages. As collage has been appropriated by multiple art movements and expanded in many directions, it has incorporated many forms of visual languages. Surrealist writings by André Breton and Robert Motherwell’s writings on the search for a philosophical spirit, psychic automatism and the task of finding a “creative principal” have informed the scope of the work.


Expanding on these ideas, Olley’s current studio research examines the language connected to abstraction and the syntax of using paint, mixed media and collage to convey visual paragraphs structured with painterly marks. This is achieved through formal and expressive explorations of the medium. The act of collecting gestures and marks are used to construct a library, one which is used to express sentences and articulate a visual language. The syntax uses gesture and marks as a surrogate type face or font, one which is informed through popular culture and graphics.