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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

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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