Personal profile

Research interests

Oliver Gosling's paintings are about the conundrums of surface and depth, and the material embodiment of space that is peculiar to the medium of painting. Space, both physical and psychological, is at a premium as never before. Information technology, social media and all the accompanying distractions, expectations and pressures evoke an urgent need for interval, pause, for slowing the eye, for the gaps, the between-worlds, and the edges. The landscape space in the paintings is neutral and is not topographic. The texture of the paint and the frequent use of graphite and pearlescent pigments has the twofold function of drawing the viewer into the space of the painting and at the same time projecting that space onto, and addressing that space in, the viewer.

In the Anthropocene era, nature is either messed up or inaccessible. So, in the paintings an unmediated, virgin space is sought, a needed space, a recognition of the disinterested neutrality of nature which trumps our homo-centrism. The space gives focus and dignity to the motifs and signs within it, yet with the tenor of uncertainty, ambiguity, loss and separation. The paradox of a painting, bounded by four sides, wanting to talk about space, is akin to infinities of space being sensed within the confines of the body, and the function of material metaphor is crucial in every aspect of painting.

The paintings ask: how do we find a personal space, a refuge in an alien, disintersted space? how do we traverse that space? are obstacles real or illusory? is our presence our absence, a non-reality in the greater space? Oliver's work has been influenced by Japanese and Chinese landscape ink monochrome painting, where space is an active force in which nature appears as a sign, an in-between world, whose essence and life force are transient and conditioned by space.

He lived and exhibited in Japan for two years and in China for seven and a half years, where he held several solo exhibitions, each one an occasion to open up dialogues through talks and workshops. The purpose is to demonstrate that deeply held perceptions and sensibilities originating in very different cultures have the capacity to address our common humanity across time and space and, in terms of Chinese and Japanese concepts of space, have particular resonance today.

Oliver is passionate about these cross-culture dialogues. One of the results of his long stay in China is that he has set up and established a permenant link with an international artists in residence programme at Organhaus, in Chongqing. This offers recent painting graduates from Brighton the possibility to go to China as artists in residence for six weeks to two months, thus providing them with the opportunty to work and exhibit in the context of a very different culture, opening up conversations with artists, curators, educators and local public. This is not only a pathway for ex-students to international exposure, but also increases the reputation of the BA Fine Art Painting course at Brighton.

After leaving China Oliver continues to develop work that reveals the profound influence of Oriental concepts outlined above, and proceeds with exhibition programmes, reently in France and Tunisia, that continue the East/West conversation with audiences that include British Council directors, local artists and public.

Education/Academic qualification

Master, Fine Art Painting, Royal College of Art

15 Sept 19826 Jun 1985

Award Date: 6 Jun 1985

External positions

Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Oxford

1 Oct 2003 → …

Accredited Lecturer, The Arts Society


  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • ND Painting
  • Chinese Painting, Japanese Painting, Contemporary painting, sign and symbol, space, landscape, materials, techniques, textures, Oriental philosophy, Philip Guston, Caspar David Friedrich, Rothko,


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