Jeremy Olson: this time of monsters. Unit London

Jeremy Olson’s this time of monsters encapsulates our current ‘transitional’ moment of societal, political, economic, and environmental uncertainty – with a sense of humor and play

London, United Kingdom–Unit London is excited to present this time of monsters, a solo show from Brooklyn-based artist Jeremy Olson, opening October 19, 2022. The exhibition debuts a body of work encompassing large-scale painting, 3D-printed sculpture, and mixed media pieces placing his signature cast of otherworldly, sci-fi-influenced creatures into futuristic scenes. Referencing a vaguely 60’s Modernist aesthetic, Olson’s highly rendered scenes are nostalgic for a future that no longer exists in the collective imagination.

this time of monsters draws its title from Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci’s reflections on an ancient Roman term, interregnum, which signifies a period of long transition between historical stages. Olson’s world and its anthropomorphic monsters live on the precipice of imminent catastrophe. However, despite the apocalyptic scenes of disaster and collapse around them, the artist injects some humor. These monsters are introspective, confused, and very human-like. They check their cellphones, lounge around reading, play, party, and entertain.

The largest of the paintings, index of refractions, depicts a monster absorbed in its digital device, leaning against a much larger dragon-like creature blissfully sleeping. A kind of generator pumps thick blue plumes of smoke into the air, enveloping the forest in fog and it’s unclear whether this is an industrial pollutant or an environmental salve. The title references the behavior of light when passing through different substances, a reflection in a pond, the disappearance of the forest into fog, and the infinite mirroring loop of the internet.

Olson’s intricately detailed, 3D-printed sculptures bring his cast of characters closer to reality, a gigantic lizard-like character with a child, reclines in a decimated sports arena examining the carriage of a destroyed monorail. Olson plays with perspective, exploring the subjectivity of the monster, reconciling it with the human, and connecting its observations and its maternal relationship. Smaller sculptures playfully conflate the monstrous and the human, a rollercoaster sprouts from a reptilian foot and a children’s slide grows from a clawed hand.

Olson’s creatures emerge from a lifelong love of cinema, science fiction, and horror. Scary movies, from Godzilla films to David Cronenberg’s body horror, explored the monster’s meaning as metaphorical, socio-political, or psychoanalytical. Here, the notion of a monster is an emblem of upheaval and immense change, yet the artist’s references to leisure and play convey a hint at rebirth and building.

Unit London

3 Hanover Square, London W1S 1HD, United Kingdom

Lisbeth Thalberg
Lisbeth Thalberg
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM.
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