Past Lives
Oil on canvas, 4x6 ft.
© Maxine Olson, 1987

Statement · Biography · Bibliography

Artist Statement
Maxine Olson

My images are taken from my Portuguese ancestry, art history, and those who have touched my life in some way.

Many of my early paintings have been about women in various stages and ages of life drawn from themes in a small hometown. In the early paintings, I tried to reveal varying degrees of intimacy in a woman's experience. Robert Ewing, in reviewing my work for Artweek, stated: "In the images - of old ladies gossiping, locked up in nursing homes clutching teddy bears, ladies playing sexual games in bars and dance halls, brooding in the luxuriously furnished boudoirs - what comes across is the emptiness and dreariness of these lives played out against the promises of youth, beauty, and middle class materialism."

Muscle Beach Man
Oil on canvas, 30x36 in.
© Maxine Olson, 1986

In the series on the male crotch, my work was a graphic process of confronting male sexuality and a reaction to the years men have painted females as sexual objects. My reaction was to deal only with their sexual area, revealing pretty much what my early encounters with men had been: sexual rather than intellectual.

As a result of teaching in Georgia, traveling to places such as Mexico, Italy, England and Portugal, my work began to change.

The painting Rodin Revisited, shows an old woman tired and misshapen, ascending a stairway while two lovers (Rodin's Kiss) continue to play out the romantic illusions of youth. The painting speaks of memories, romance, lost youth, loss of passion and love, and the journey from birth to death.

Past Lives deals with rape, in its two forms: intellectual and physical. I appropriate images from Portugal, Peter Paul Rubens, my Catholic beginnings, and nature.

The painting entitled the Visitation deals with issues of fear, innocence, cunning and dominance.

The images of my ancestors in the computer print on canvas entitled Marriage bring together two cultures, the Swedish and the Portuguese, and my children who become a mixture of both.

In my work, I am searching for meaning and answers to a life that has been filled with many questions, contradictions, and wonder.

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All images and text © Maxine Olson.