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17/09/2021 - 31/10/2021

New Work - Painting


Olivia Sterling - Really Rough Scrubbing Brush

Olivia Sterling - Olivia Sterling’s (b. 1996, Peterborough) new body of work, commissioned by the CCA as part of the Episodes programme, focuses on colour-changing bodies through tanning or fake tan, on the stage of the bacchanalian British package holiday.

The former transforms white bodies into a desired category of beauty, one that paradoxically runs contra to entrenched racial prejudices against darker skin tones. Figures rub food into their skins, lounge scantily clad at the poolside, the palette of colours accentuating pink skin, red sunburn, and messy traces of exuberant consumption.

Sterling’s graphic paintings and prints zone in on racist micro and macro-aggressions perpetuated on a daily basis in the UK, through slap-stick, absurdity, and the language of cartoons. Brightly saturated canvases depict abstracted limbs. Their interaction is variously violent and ambiguous, passing food, sticky liquids, and coded objects, or attacking each other, in actions that are the product of a systemic language of shame, exclusion, and cultural ownership.


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New Cross St James’, New Cross, London, SE14 6AD