Working with his distinctive abstract painting style, Dan Oliver creates a fantasy world that offers surrealistic commentaries of the world with a rural romanticism undertone.
Oliver’s images range from figural to abstract, containing elements that are both realistic and symbolic. He skillfully blends past memories with concerns of the present, creating images that evoke nostalgic sentiments while engaging with contemporary realities, using refined simplicity to achieve an iconic appearance. By using subjects of fire, water, empty landscapes and morphing forms Oliver tells the emotional yet provocative narratives that are open to multiple interpretations in his dreamlike and idyllic paintings.
Oliver grew up in the southern Illinois cities of East Saint Louis and Belleville. He earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and later an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During his postgraduate programme Oliver studied under the innovative Chicago Imagists artist group, among which are Christina Ramberg and Roger Brown, to name a few. This experience led him to combine the group’s surrealist grotesquerie and modernistic painterly techniques as well as the influence of Surrealism, Modernism and Pop Art with his American small-town upbringing, which manifested in his canvases – a union of the modernist technique with rustic idleness.
Besides visual art, Oliver also works across various cultural institutions and as an exhibition designer for the Chicago History Museum. In addition, he is the director of Glow Exhibitions, a private art gallery founded in support of local emerging artists. The artist now lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.