"Look right through that camera!"

-Paul Thacker photographer

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Richard J. Olsen: Artist, Painter, Professor Emeritus The University of Georgia

Abstract Painting is to ABSTRACT from something that is out there. In my work there is always the ‘trying to make a painting’ element in it. To me that is the signature of process, caught in the middle of trying to do something, like depicting the position of the masking tape that was used while making the painting. There is most times some antecedent imagery appearing in the genesis of the next painting, but with a difference. While attempting to make Art, one’s whole state of readiness, memory, ancestry and that inventory of your own character comes to play. I have been ‘on th’ hunt’ attempting to make Art. The Artist is self appointed:

"Art is not a gimmick. Art is something that never was and at the same time something that always was."

R.A. Richard Artschwager, from a telephone conversation,1978

I have been subconsciously holding that concept throughout my teaching and studio life and inherited it during the MFA years and privately knew it all along ever since I was a teenager as an awareness within. It must be the same thing that prompted Self-Appointment.

I grew up WWII, teenager with Korea, college as wrestler (U Wisconsin), physical educator, ROTC, Commissioned Officer, helicopter pilot (Vietnam). The Vietnam experience developed a natural self appointment in order to ‘tell it’ (as Vince Gotera would say in his book “Radical Visions and Voices”).

This first art, “Vietnam Revisited” came from memory, influenced by the sense of the time with Hemmingway, Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Camus, Kierkegaard as my guiding vision. I understood that the least absurd act seemed to make Art; specifically for me, to paint; and eventually the least absurd thing to paint became the studio wall.

Painting became for me to be wall oriented; the wall of the studio; up against the wall! In 1976 this became the exigency, hence the Wall Series. Over 200 ‘Wall’ paintings later, the next round of painting becomes from itself.

“Studio…it informs your painting… PTSD or your Vietnam period era memories subconscious or conscious, inform your work”.

Larry Pomeroy, CBS Vietnam War Correspondent, while Olsen shared the tour of ‘The Tunnels of Cu Chi’, SRVN, 31 December, 1993.