Biomorphic Expressionism: The Art of Susan Olsen

A painting with trees and abstract shapesNorwegian Water and Wood, oil on linen

Susan Olsen is an artist whose current practice centres on “biomorphic expressionism.” The artist’s works in oil on linen draw on elements of realistic landscapes and flora, building on recognizable features with abstracted, alien forms to create visuals that are truly unique. 

An oil on linen painting with landscape and abstract elementsIt's the Journey, oil on linen


I enjoy the tension between the artist’s particular painting style and the visual language that is put into practice here. Susan’s use of negative space and slightly textured, translucent fields of colour is reminiscent of expressionist painters like Helen Frankenthaler, while the composition of the images has an almost sci-fi edge to it, with shapes and colours often appearing to explode out of a central point, or converge on the picture plane. 

A screen capture of Susan Olsen's art portfolio


There is something definitely biological and organic about these pieces -- whether it’s a result of the textured, imperfect painting style, or the infusion of recognizable natural artefacts into the works may be up to individual viewer perception. The artist’s emphasis on curved, organic-looking forms enforces the idea of something living and breathing, rather than pure geometric abstraction.

An oil painting of a tree surrounded by abstract shapesLook Up 1, oil on linen

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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