James Olley


Born, September 29, 1974



As found in modern art and architecture during the 1950’s and 1960’s, North Americans were conditioned through advertising and media to adopt modernism as a new and better way of life. Modernist styles such as Abstract Expressionism were promoted as leading edge ways to make art that defined American culture. In architecture, modernism infiltrated the development of suburbs and represented a way of life that promoted consumerism, leisure and the nuclear family.


Much of the urban and suburban spaces we live in have been influenced by modernism. Olley is interested in exploring the vocabulary of modernist abstraction through the language of contemporary figuration. He is influenced by late modernist Formalism, colour field painting, gestural mark making and Abstract Expressionism.


Olley received his MFA from the University of Waterloo after completing his BFA at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since graduating Olley has had a number of solo exhibitions locally and internationally; Angell Gallery (Toronto), Galerie Trois Points (Montreal), Peter Robertson Gallery (Edmonton), Kasia Kay Art Projects (Chicago), Incident Report (New York) and Dundee Contemporary Arts (Scotland), Galerie Weissraum, (Kyoto, Japan); and Groenhazengracht 1, (Leiden, Netherlands). Olley’s work belongs to private collections such as Colart Collection (Montreal) and Cenovus Energy (Edmonton). Olley has been awarded Emerging & Assistance Artist Grants (Toronto Arts Council & Ontario Arts Council), in addition, received full scholarship to the Vermont Studio Center Residency. Olley’s work has been profiled at contemporary art fairs, including Pulse New York, Pulse Miami, Papier 13 and Next Chicago.