Olivia Pendergast’s expressionistic portraits of African villagers have a tactility to be reckoned with. Olivia produces biographical oil paintings about the lives of African villagers, not to scrutinise or ‘Other’ the residents, but to reveal their gentleness, vitality and raw joy.
Education and fleeing the nest
Olivia was raised on a small, organic farm in North Carolina. From a very early age, Olivia began to train her artistic eye. The artist studied Columbus College of Art and Design’s five-year BFA program where she majored in Illustration but pursued Fine Art in any and every spare moment she had. After a 5-year stint working in the LA film industry as a conceptual designer, she began to fully immerse herself in her passion for painting. Before long, she began to travel the world, heading to Malawi - ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’, Haiti and Bangladesh, until she eventually settled in Kenya where she now resides.
Olivia’s Style and Approach
Olivia’s portraits and landscapes are an abstract tapestry of rustic, Byzantine colour-palettes and robust yet indefinite Klimt-like forms. Her paintings are nearly always large as a reflection of the immensity and power of the African continent and are respectful of the unique humanity in each and everyone of her subjects; Olivia is interested in the idea of individual auras, and through her work aims to evoke the deep and personal emotions of her subject’s characters. This can be seen as a shimmering lightness surrounding the figure in Maasai or as twirling, floral vines in Nude Profile on White. Olivia doesn’t simply paint what she sees but what she feels about her subjects.
Exhibitions and Critical Acclaim
Olivia’s paintings have been enjoyed worldwide from the States to Dubai and all across Africa. She currently has permanent collections in Salt Lake City and Kenya, with recent temporary shows taking place at the Serenade Gallery, Ethiopia, and the Thomas Gilcrease Museum, Oklahoma. Her works have been complimented in various American publications for their ineffable beauty and intrigue.