With his distinctive painting style that combines surrealism and rural romanticism, Dan Oliver constructs a dream-like vision of the world that is simultaneously familiar and strange. Oliver’s imagery ranges from figural to abstract, and realistic to symbolic. He skilfully blends past memories with concerns of the present, creating idyllic, yet haunting images evoking nostalgia, and engaging with contemporary concerns. His work’s refined simplicity achieves an iconic appearance that is both striking and memorable. With elements such as fire, water, empty landscapes and morphing forms, Oliver’s idyllic paintings embody emotional and provocative narratives. Their clean simple forms and quiet beauty allow us to keep looking and thinking about the real world, which can sometimes be complex and frightening. The paintings invite viewers to reflect upon their place in this world, leaving room for dialogue and multiple interpretations.
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 several members of the innovative Chicago Imagists artist group, such as Jim Nutt, Ray Yoshida and Don Baum. Other influential members of that group who inspired Oliver were the painters Christina Ramberg and Roger Brown. This experience led him to combine the group’s irreverent grotesquery and modernist technique with other influences from Surrealism, Modernism and Pop Art. All of that combined with his American small-town upbringing, manifests in his canvases—a union of the modernist technique, contemporary culture, and rustic idleness.
The artist now lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.