Takeaway Dreams


Written by Don't Panic
11 Monday 11th December 2017


Frustrated with the exclusivity of London’s art scene, artist Oliver Malin took things into his own hands and is exhibiting his latest work Takeaway Dreams at a kebab shop in N1. He's also traded canvases for traditionally ephemeral pizza boxes for his sleepy portraits in an attempt to juxtapose short-lived physicality and infinite dreams.

Takeaway Dreams brings together a host of characters in recurrent, everyday situations, experiencing & displaying a range of emotions, which all come back to forms of dreaming. Malin sees dreaming as an active, cognitive process of goal-seeking and his series presents people in the heart of this undertaking – whether reminiscing, dreaming for an infinite present or contemplating an immediate future.

We caught up with Oliver before the opening of his exhibit in Marathon Kebab House on the 13th of December.


Why pizza boxes?

In essence, my work gravitates around paintings faces and expressions so using something usually square, or nicely rectangular in shape is a good approach to adopt as a canvas. I should add that I've rarely taken this approach as my first artistic crusade all in the name of a solo show in 2011, involved paintings people on crushed cans, so nothing about the objects were exactly idea to prime and paint upon. Beyond trying to wax lyrical about the art theory aspect of the Pizza box (I can try if you want) the impetus for a series upon them came when I was eating at Wood Oven Pizza on Kilburn High Road at about 3 am one night. In front of me was a guy who looked really despairing. Obviously the large American hot did not lighten his mood when he sat down in front of me but I was struck really by the juxtaposition between his forlorn expressions and the upbeat nature of the graphics on the Pizza Box & that's where the idea was born for the series, expanded and developed from that point.

Some would say that the pizza boxes work against the seriousness of the work, but I would retort by saying that it adds to the actual experience as the viewer is physically connected to the subject’s environment by living and breathing within it. Also, you can’t order a pizza or kebab from five feet away in a gallery.


Are galleries elitist?

I personally don't think Gallerist really are to blame, they aren't the real bad guys, they are just people that have to ensure they can pay their rent on time and eat. Most take on as much risk as they can when it comes to the promotion of emerging artists/new artists into a wider consciousness, but in the words of someone on that first Blakroc album most commercial galleries do live by the mantra "If it don't make dollar, then it don't make sense" & if I had a gallery, I'd probably follow this approach, through sheer necessity.


In my humble view, the real villains in all of this as the fat landlords that let empty premise remain cold, lifeless and toxic through absence. Young artists/creatives/whatever could occupy every empty space in the bulk of major cities throughout the UK, whilst these landlords would definitely attract more potential longer-term tenants and not have to pay rates whilst the creative tenants are in there, so everyone would win, whilst at the moment no one is, whilst the silent recession in the UK gets deeper


Does your art tackle class?

It's a good question and one the French love, how many Palm'dors does Ken Loach have? I'd like to think that by painting, usual isolating an individual into a single frame, freezing them within an endless moment usually because I've found their expression interesting and not as means of tackling the class debate and firmly say where they sit in society. This is because I have no concrete evidence nor am passing judgment on that front, but simply acting as an offbeat, slightly random chronicler, presenting people as I find them and relaying the emotions & the overall ambiguity we all show in our faces back to the viewer of my work. For me, it's all about curiosity and intrigue and that's the purpose of the art,  it's a an hors-d'oeuvre and not even a starter, let alone a main, the viewer has to do the heavy lifting if they want to make a judgement and finite options on the person being roughly conveyed in the painting. The one side note I'll add is that I am disproportionately drawn to individuals that have a sense of marginalization, whether societal or how they might have marginalized themselves in some manner. Of course, I am taking a guess at this using just what their expression tells me in a split second.


Does your art tackle pizza?

Well I occasionally tackle Pizza, ignoring my lactose intolerance on weekends and so consumed most of the pizza used for its boxes for the show. I love Pizza though, it's texture, colour, weight & reliability even when everyone else leaves you in your life you can still call up a stranger, agree to give his colleague some money & 30 mins later a hot, cheesy Pizza will be by your side listening to your problems and will give you the warmth and nourishment that you so crave  


How do you think instagram has influenced creativity?

The best thing that has happened to artists is Instagram and what it has done has allowed them to find a wider audience and present their images and if one can harness that you’re in business whether you are in London or Timbuktu.


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