For her first solo exhibition with Gillian Jason Gallery, Olivia Valentine shows new portraits of her close friends, the people who have become a lifeline for her in her recovery journey from addiction.
Stepping outside of the traditional boundaries of portraiture, she turns the focus on her relationship with the sitters, bringing their feelings for each other and their personal stories and narratives to the foreground. Her technique also breaks with the tradition of her classical Florentine training: a chromatic palette, scumbled brushwork and a flattening of perspective bring a touching naivety to the paintings, conveying the sense of affection she has for her subjects and the value she places on friendship.
My personal recovery journey made me realise that the opposite of addiction is connection,
My support network of friends became even more vital, as I found hope, comfort, serenity and ultimately elation in moving away from negative elements in my life.
Despite a serious mission to raise awareness of the importance of robust mental health, Olivia’s work is imbued with positivity:
My paintings explore the intimacy we develop with friends and try to tap into feelings we all have, even if they are painful. I want the viewer to understand that experiencing the lows is unavoidable and part of life – and that the storm will pass.
Olivia is a recent addition to Gillian Jason Gallery’s unique roster of female-identifying artists. The mother / daughter team Elli and Millie Jason Foster who now run the gallery took the helm from mother and grandmother respectively, Gillian Jason, in 2017. As three generations of women, it was decided that the Gillian Jason Gallery would be used to champion art by women from the turn of the last century to the present day.
Olivia Valentine, Solo Show, Gillian Jason Gallery, 7th September – 7th October 2023
About the artist
Olivia Valentine b.1994, London, UK UK-based, figurative artist Olivia Valentine studied traditional portraiture in Florence for four years at Charles Cecil Studios. There, she learnt the old masters’ technique called the ‘sight-size’, method rooted in the practice of Van Dyke, Velasquez and Titian, based upon observing the model from a distance and to the scale of life whilst painting under natural light.
Since leaving Florence, Olivia has embarked on her own creative journey of self-expression drawing inspiration from different styles. Valentine makes use of flattened perspectives and undulating planes to create an altered perception of depth. Paired with the vivid chromatic palette of her backgrounds, this method leads to a unique juxtaposition that confers a playful aesthetic to the figures traditionally portrayed in the original masters’ technique.
Particularly interested in painting women, Valentine shows appreciation of the elegance and subtlety of the female form. In any portrait painting, she focuses on capturing the light, fluidity and character of the subject, as well as the chemistry between the artist and the model. Exploring the value and importance of friendship, especially with women, Valentine’s sitters often have a personal relationship with her.
Since graduating from Charles H. Cecil Studios, Olivia has exhibited part in various group and solo shows. Most notably, in 2021 she exhibited at the Royal Society Of Portrait Painters, London and held a solo exhibition at The Coningsby Gallery, London. Valentine is represented by Gillian Jason Gallery, and took part in their November 2022 group show ‘Face to Face’, ‘Hysteria’ in January 2023 and ‘Eye of the Collector’ art fair in collaboration with Christie’s, May 2023. @oliviavalentineartist