THE SIX FOOT GALLERY INTERVIEW: Olga Dean Hart (Noughts & Crosses)

Not All That Glitters Is Gold, by Olga Dean Hart

Olga is an expressive painter based in a small village in the Cairngorms National Park, in the Scottish Highlands. Her colourful work centres on the exploration of the human soul. She describes her paintings as visual metaphors, prompting viewers to contemplate the possibility of creativity and individual expression existing within structured systems. Olga’s primary objective lies in fostering a dialogue with the viewer. Each artwork transcends its physical canvas, acting as a conduit for deeper reflection. 

Noughts & Crosses, Olga’s collaborative exhibition with artist Madeleine Daly, runs at Six Foot Gallery until June 28th 2024.

Hi Olga! Can you tell us how you arrived at the theme of your exhibition, Noughts & Crosses?
Maddy and I were talking about different possibilities for the theme of our exhibition. As we were looking at our works, I noticed the contrast between our styles – my use of circles and her predominant use of straight lines. I said we should call it Noughts and Crosses! Initially, it was a lighthearted suggestion, but the idea had substance, and we decided to go with it.

Are there specific advantages or challenges associated with working in your chosen mediums? And have you experimented with other mediums or techniques?
I use oil-based mediums, which I dilute to allow them to flow in a semi-controlled way. This technique enables me to achieve my goal of free colour movement while maintaining a degree of control. Previously, I experimented with watercolours to achieve a similar effect, but oils offer a significant advantage – they provide a longer working time as they do not dry out as quickly. This extended drying time allows me to refine and manipulate the paint to achieve the desired outcome.

Can you elaborate on the significance or symbolism of the chosen title of your exhibition?
The game of Noughts and Crosses is deterministic; if both players make optimal moves, it always ends in a tie, reflecting the idea that all events are predetermined and inevitable. Mathematically, it can be represented by a finite set of states and transitions, leading to a predictable outcome when played perfectly.

However, the element of choice and strategy within the game’s rules symbolises free will. Players have the freedom to choose their moves, and while the game has finite possible outcomes, the path to those outcomes varies based on their decisions. This mirrors the idea that, despite constraints, individuals can make choices that influence events, highlighting creativity and autonomy within structured systems.

Similarly, in my art, I use different ways of painting circles; some are controlled, while others are more free. I choose the colours but give them the freedom to mix on the canvas. This approach balances structure and spontaneity. Through this interplay of order and chaos, I invite viewers to contemplate the balance between constraint and freedom, inevitability and choice. My work serves as a visual metaphor for the complex philosophical discussions on determinism and free will, demonstrating how structured systems can still harbour space for creativity and individual expression.

What emotions or reactions do you hope viewers experience when they see your artwork
In my work, I seek to create a sense of depth and movement, using a combination of abstract forms and bold colours. I aim to create a dialogue between the painting and the viewer, inviting them to engage with the piece on an emotional and intellectual level. I hope viewers experience a range of emotions and reactions, seeing something unique in my work and asking different questions. This individual interpretation and connection are central to my artistic vision, allowing each person to find their own meaning and resonance within the art.

What’s your favourite piece in the exhibition?
I Can’t Look, I Can’t Help But Look. There is something brave and bold, yet gentle and light about this piece.

Follow along with Olga’s artistic journey on Instagram @odhart

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