Oliver Beer

Born in 1985 in Kent (England), he lives and works between London and Paris

Resonance Painting (Lakeside 1), 2023

Resonance Painting (Lakeside 2), 2023
Pigment on canvas, 2 x 3 m

site-specific production

Courtesy of the artist

From the beginning, Oliver Beer has been working with sound as a “raw plastic material” and has been interested in the relationship between sound and space, especially through voice and architecture, seeing a possible instrument in any space. His study of the resonance frequency produced by different environments has given rise to series of projects such as the ‘Resonance Projects’, vocal performances using the natural harmonics of buildings and which he has been deploying repeatedly since 2007, or the ‘Resonance Paintings’, pieces that translate musical harmonies into visual language and are another example of these experiments. For these paintings, a speaker is placed below the canvas in order to make it vibrate. The sound waves then disperse dry powder pigments previously placed on them. These are then fixed by the artist in a single movement, characteristic of a specific note so that each canvas is different from the previous one, depending on the sounds chosen. Oliver Beer thus builds a vocabulary of abstract forms that gives substance to sound and develops a unique method of painting, where sound becomes the paintbrush. As he says, “people don’t realize that music has a physical form: If you could see music vibrating in the air around us, you would see beautiful three-dimensional geometries.” The other constant of the ‘Resonance Paintings’ is their blue color, given by cobalt oxide, inspired by a blue and white vase that the artist found in his grandmother’s house and whose history he traced, through trade and colonial routes, the Portuguese, Dutch, and British empires, Japan, Korea, China and Iran where it was created. Within the exhibition Un Lac Inconnu, these latest ‘Resonance Paintings’ were made according to sounds recorded at several times in Lake Lugano with submerged microphones, in order to “visualize”, one could say, the underwater landscape facing us at Villa Heleneum, mysterious and full of life.

Oliver Beer, Resonance Painting (Lakeside 1), 2023 Pigment on canvas 200 x 300 cm – Courtesy of the artist