BY STARRLA CRAY
WINSTED, MN “Magical realism” is how a Minneapolis art gallery described Winsted native Mat Ollig’s paintings, which are created on expansive multi-canvas backdrops.
The gallery, called “ditch.,” is displaying Ollig’s work in a solo exhibition until Friday, Dec. 4.
“All of my work is multi-canvas now,” said Ollig, who graduated from the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley in 2002.
In his artist statement, Ollig describes his work this way: “My newest paintings portray the fragmentary nature of memories with a literal depiction. They pulse, come together, and drift apart. Related images overlap, and fragments are lost.
“Boundaries do not exist in our memories, nor does our waking vision cease at an edge. The composition is not beholden to the rectangle, and is allowed to organically grow and dictate its own geometry; created by the idea, not by the limitations of a single canvas.”
Ollig’s artistic arrangement of diamond-shaped canvases adds a new dimension to his already sought-after pieces. He’s been a full-time artist since Dec. 1, 2010, painting for both corporate collections and private patrons.
Before starting each piece, Ollig makes a small, digital version, called a “study.”
“I know exactly how it’s going to look before I start,” he said. “When I’m working with clients, they can see ahead of time what will be on their wall.”
He was the top seller at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) art sale the past few years, but wasn’t eligible this year since the event is only open to current students and alumni up to five years beyond graduation.
An expanding future
Not having to prepare for the MCAD sale has given Ollig more time to focus on other pursuits, such as expanding his clientele in the East Coast.
“I just got back from New York,” he said, explaining that he met with American portrait artist John Howard Sanden.
Sanden, who painted the official White House portraits of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, was impressed with Ollig’s work, giving him encouragement to submit to New York galleries.
He’s also applied for a couple of artist residencies, and hopes to be one of seven people accepted for an international three-week residency on a cargo boat.
“I absolutely love doing my art,” Ollig said. “Every day, I kind of have to pinch myself.”
Being an artist isn’t easy, though, and Ollig has spent countless hours developing and marketing his talent.
“The art world is very, very competitive,” he said.
The next phase in Ollig’s artistic journey will be to create multi-canvas pieces that extend away from the wall, suspended by thin rods.
“They kind of levitate,” he said. “They actually look like they’re floating on the walls.”
As for subjects, Ollig primarily chooses iconic “nostalgic imagery,” ranging from an astronaut’s voyage to the moon, to a ‘57 Chevy, to a glass bottle of Coca-Cola.
“These paintings depict the ‘second-hand memories’ of our culture and society, and provide a catalyst to the stories and memories of those who witnessed them; stories which are separated by a generation of romanticization and nostalgia,” he noted.
See Ollig's work
Mat Ollig’s artwork will be on display at the ditch. through Friday, Dec. 4.
The ditch. is located at 400 First Avenue North Suite 535 in Minneapolis, MN 55401.
Gallery viewing is by appointment Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (612) 355-4300 for details.