Pere Llobera, Yuko Murata, Jacco Olivier

The current exhibition at Hidde van Seggelen Gallery Pere Llobera, Yuko Murata and Jacco Olivier presents a cross section of contemporary, figurative painting from Spain, The Netherlands and Japan. Shown together for the first time, the exhibition will feature works on paper and canvas by Yuko Murata alongside a new series of works by Pere Llobera and an animation by painter-filmmaker Jacco Olivier. United by their translation of the everyday into an alternative landscape – be that psychological, romantic or melancholic – each of the artists presents the viewer with a fantastical vision of reality.

Pere Llobera, a prolific painter, has made a previously unseen series of works for the exhibition. Llobera depicts a diverse and enigmatic imagery marked by thematic plurality. His intense and busy scenes often borrow from the language and composition of photography, more specifically the opportunist snapshot. Works such as Teenagers, 2008 or his recent series of 18 paintings entitled A History of Mediocrity centre around groups of people in the act of socialising; talking, drinking, smoking, clapping or singing. The paintings have a palpable volume, with music and voices almost audible alongside the implied click of a camera shutter recording the night’s events. Many of his works are suggestive of working from a photograph, with paintings such as Summer Nights in the Spanish Villages, 2007 and Jubilée, 2010 complete with the faded tones of under exposed film. His colour schemes are characteristically dark and smoggy with surreal elements often infiltrating his depictions of prosaic, everyday scenes resulting in paintings of a grungy magical realism.

Yuko Murata fuses the traditions of Eastern and Western painting. Adopting the heavily stylized, flat planes of 18th Century Japanese woodcuts, she renders paint in a thick and expressive brushwork. Her output is typified by paintings of a humble scale depicting solitary animals and spare landscapes. Mining her imagery from second-hand sources such as magazines, postcards and encyclopedias, Murata’s practice is dictated by the specificity of her choice in subject matter, as well as in style and technique. Emphatically un-naturalistic: Murata’s landscapes are both flat and yet strangely familiar.

The resulting scenes are an understated breed of Pop Art, although dislocated from their source material; they continue to operate as a mirror to the Japanese popular culture still so readily consumed by the West.

Jacco Olivier creates heavily worked short films, painting and re-painting each individual scene for the camera, an intrinsic tool in his filmmaking process. His animations can be broadly divided into those that tell a story and those that move away from a distinct narrative towards a more abstracted depiction of their subject. Olivier weaves together conflicting strands of art history. His use of film enhances the idea of painting as a story with his works becoming a type of history painting for the everyday. At the same time, his vivid colour palette and lucid brushwork draw from Impressionism, a manner of painting that heralded a shift towards the surface of the painting, and away from pictorial and narrative depth. Whilst Olivier’s contemporary approach to paint and embracing of new technologies can be seen as an innovation within the medium, his subjects tend to be those of a more traditional breed, among them the still life, landscape, portrait, as well as the time-honoured bather. There is something unabashedly optimistic in his works; their aesthetic exuberance the result of Olivier indulging in the physical properties, and histories, of paint.

The exhibition will present both Pere Llobera and Yuko Murata’s work for the first time in the UK. Pere Llobera lives and works between Barcelona and Amsterdam. Recent group exhibitions include From a Painter’s Perspective, Art et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, and What’s Up? De jongste schilderkunst in Nederland, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, both in 2012. Yuko Murata lives and works in Tokyo. Recent group exhibitions include Pathos and Small Narratives: Japanese Contemporary Art, Gana Art Centre, Seoul, Everything Must Go, Casey Kaplan, New York, and Art Statements, Art Basel, all in 2011. Forthcoming exhibitions include a solo presentation at Gallery Hyundai in Seoul in 2012. Jacco Olivier lives and works in Amsterdam. Recent solo exhibitions include a presentation in New York, curated by the New Museum, Madison Square Park – presented by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York and Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst, Amsterdam, all in 2012.

With special thanks to Gallery Side 2 Tokyo, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam and Ron

Mandos Gallery, Amsterdam.