Vietnam Transformed: The Art of Richard J. Olsen as Symbolic Reality

Vietnam Transformed: The Art of Richard J. Olsen as Symbolic Reality

Date: 5/19/2017 - 8/12/2017


NVAM is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition featuring the work of Vietnam veteran artist, Richard J. Olsen. This exhibition showcases prints and paintings made throughout Olsen’s career.  The exhibition will open on May 19th, 2017 with a reception from 6-9 PM.


Olsen served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot early in the war, before the countryside was ravaged by bombing and defoliation.  His approach to art reflects his optimistic personality in that instead of merely fixating on the horrors of war in his work, Olsen also considers the multi-faceted beauty of the country and uses imagery that invokes the mythology, history and cultural landscape of Vietnam in tandem with his own wartime experience.


Midway through his career, after struggling to find subject matter for his paintings, Olsen looked to an artist cliché: “If you don’t know what to paint, paint your studio wall”.  After a period of experimentation, these vibrant, large canvases became a fully realized series of work in which Olsen brings the Vietnam War to a universally understood plane of existence through allegory–in this case defined as a metaphor whose vehicle may be a symbol representing real-world issues or occurrences that illustrate complex ideas.  In both his “Wall” series and his other work, Olsen links the pictorial artifacts of his Vietnam wartime experience to larger concepts in order to convey an authentic idea of war. 


These selected works will be on view from May 19th to August 12th 2017.