It might be that someone out there still doesn’t recognise the varying features of his face; whether he has facial hair, the colours of his face, its angles, whether his expression is serene, transparent or if it rather looks like polarised glass. There will people who won’t be able to tell his gender, his height, his weight, or how much space his substance takes up. Indeed, they weren’t able to examine a physical mapping – they didn’t come across it, nothing extraordinary really; people who didn’t expect the exquisite possibility of observing all that is unimportant, contrary to the contemporary tendency. David Oliver, however, knows about the substantial and the sacred: preserving intimacy and protecting sensibility. Grip Face is his subterfuge, his particular mask. 


The artistic, aesthetic and visual education of Sandpaper Face – the literal translation of his alter ego or rather, how his rollerskating friends called him in La Palma beginning of the 2000s – takes place in both the private and the common spaces of his generation; rollerskating in the street, immersed in the pages of some comics or lost in the technical skills of Japanese animé, through his EarPods or in between endeavours to apply the plastics of the furtive intervention. A de facto insurrectionist means which allows him, from a very young age, to understand art as a tool to survive. Thus starts a multifaceted artistic career that will revolve around constantly reexamining the outlook towards his own Pleiad. 


Four elements repeat themselves in David Oliver’s symbol dictionary, whatever the language – carefully chosen by the author: painting, sculpture, installation, drawing. The mirror as an element through which one might look, without recognising his own self, the hair, linked in his case to his childhood, the mask as a protective shield in the face of the world’s dirt and dust, and the costume, which allows to unleash fantasies and desires, however dark. 


With an artist-engineer vocation and a certain flexibility in the body’s movement within marginal spaces, Grip Face builds bridges between contexts, elements, techniques, extensions, measurements, and people. As fluid as a cat, his vision adjusts to the container; with a language that’s as personal as it is collective, and which tries to be a part and a reflection of the zeitgeist. Oliver’s work provides a playful space full of layers, upon which one may dissect the worries of an impatient generation, hungry for information – even if its veracity might not prove decisive – and for which the internet’s landscape is the seemingly best scene for a correct learning of savoir faire


Borders hinder Grip Face, be it because of the perpetual feeling of not fitting in, that accompanies him since he’s a child, or because of the anxiety that always awakens the perspective of a society bound to technological massification, communication through devices and virtual relations. First, he erased the dividing line between public and private – from painting in the street to exhibiting his work in white cubes. Later, he would rearrange it again by simply switching the order. From the refuge-workshop, with its matching drawings, maps and material studies, to the Gran Via (The shelter is loud in your head, a 2024 installation). While they don’t disturb him, placing them side to side doesn’t generate the least embarrassment in him, thus sometimes disconcerting the rigidity of our structures. From not ever showing his face, to publishing his personal visual diaries in a delightful book. 


In the same way a screen sends us back a gradual “error” message in endless and overlapping layers, his painting doesn’t quite get the impatient index fingers pounding on the left side of the mouse; every layer of information is treated precisely and minutely, undergoes a new round of air brushing, wax, oil or acrylics. It’s intervened upon, erased or hidden, thus shaping a meta universe, plagued with aesthetic references that are inherent to generation Y) and the Z also, and surely all the upcoming letters (and executed with his own technical precision – typical of the one who learns to paint under the spell of immediacy. Duality impregnates the materialisation of his conscience, it oscillates between abstraction and figuration, digital and analog, the fear that paralyses and the one that makes one run with impossible strength and agility. This drive made him take his work around the globe (from a residency in the Museums Quartier of Vienna to fairs in Madrid and Mexico or exhibitions in Seoul and Paris) and expand the limits of an infinite and evolving exploration that is part of the learning process of the very author elaborating them. As an artist or as a curator – another hat of his – for David Oliver, meaning lies in continuity and expansion, in not being able to see the end, in living the artistic expression the way we live in the world, temporarily and in an uncertain present.



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