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PARIS REVISITED

The former director of The National Art School, Bernard Ollis is now entirely commited to his personal art practice. Having stepped back from his obligations at NAS, his prolific new work is, in the eyes of NG Art Gallery Director; Nicky Ginsberg, ‘his best yet.’

More than just an artist, Bernard Ollis is master composer, inventor and magician. He deftly melds oil pastels with nuance, daily observations of the extraordinary, suppressed gravity and disjointed perspective. Ollis knocks on the door of unrestricted imagination in his latest, intoxicating body of work on Paris.


Waxing lyrical, Bernard recounts a Parisian man he saw wearing a beret and pushing a bicycle, talking about soccer on his way into a Picasso retrospective. ‘It just feels so civilised, like the best of all places but without the crass bits... when you watch a French quiz show you realise they put the same emphasis on questions about art and writing as they do sport and politics.’

Bernard lucidly describes Paris as his spiritual home and creative comfort. While still a student of the Royal College of Art in London, his first artist residency was to Paris in 1974.


It was here that he began using the oil pastels he now wields so expertly. ‘It was the first period in my life where I was actually making art because that’s what I wanted to do. I was living the life of an artist and I found that’s what I liked doing.’ Certainly he still does live the life of an artist. He inhabits, a mega-studio of rare proportions in Sydney’s St Peters which he and partner Wendy Sharpe purchased with great speed and foresight before the ‘For Sale’ sign was even hammered into the ground. Much like his personality, Bernard’s paintings are direct, frank and vibrant. There is no hesitation when it comes to buying property or composing an artwork.


When asked when he began painting he states ‘I never stopped!’ Instinctively compelled to create, Bernard’s paintings are full of his unabating enthusiasm and intent. He uses the shadow as a visual device to take the eye for a walk, to indicate a human presence, voyeuristic or otherwise. He’ll bend a bridge, change entire sky lines and lean lamp posts together like lovers embracing - aware he’s creating a stage for the viewer to inhabit. From creating theatre sets in London he has learnt to paint with a sense of what is beyond the edges, about to enter or exit the constructs of his paintings.


Fascinated with the psychology of what might happen, like a choose your own adventure novel, the outcome of his storytelling is informed by the viewers own imagination and experiences. They see themselves in his invented characters and become his protagonists. His paintings are like sentences half spoken, requiring the viewer to finish them.

Ultimately magician Ollis invites you into fantastical Parisian street scenes and idyllic apartments using every trick in the book.


Bernard Ollis studied at The Royal College of Art in London and was mentored by David Hockney. He has been the recipient of many grants and residencies, most recently to Cairo as guest of the Australian Ambassador in Egypt. He has been a finalist in the Sulman Prize on numerous occasions and a finalist in the Conrad Jupiter Art Prize, the Doug Moran Portrait Prize and the Dobell Prize to name but a few. He exhibits extensively across Australia and his work is held in major public and private collections in Australia and abroad.
 
BERNARD OLLIS
The Seine at Dusk

 


 

BERNARD OLLIS
A Parisian Journal

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Cafe Escargot

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Beige Room with Balcony

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Blue Room with Balcony

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Windows with Lampshades

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Window view with coffee

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Paris view with blue tablecloth

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Paris view with lampshades

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Window Views Paris

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Le Bateau Lavoir

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Place Du Tertre

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Parisian Street Cafes

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Cocci Market

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Pet Shop

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Le Coin des Amis

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Louvre Pyramid

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Montmartre Steps

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Observatory Gardens

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Rue Danton

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Place des Vosges

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Pont Marie

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Pont d'Lena

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Parisian Apartment - Large

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Paris Tourists - Small

 


 
BERNARD OLLIS
Paris Tourists - Small