Like the Renaissance artworks from the 17th century, Oli uses exuberant detail, deep colour and grandeur to achieve a sense of awe in Aphrodisiac. The nude figure who dreams of sexual desirability falls short however, instead, holding onto a rotten sense of self-worth and belonging. Like Velazquez’s, Rokeby Venus, she is posing for the viewer ensuing a sense of voyeurism with a suggestive gaze. Borrowing the intertwined forms of Blue Nude from Matisse, the painting is fiery, provocative and sexy. No wonder, having been placed above the fireplace, Aphrodisiac warms up the room. Seemingly pleasurable, the heart palpitates, but be warned there is more than first meets the eye.
Green mould permeates the oyster as ants and flies traipse the strawberries and the redolently placed cherry has become nothing more than the breeding ground of a sweet seeking worm. Oli has taken each seductive element and made them unpleasurable, unwanted and insipid. With Why Don’t You Do It Right from Who Framed Roger Rabbit still playing on repeat during its creation, the character resembles the hyper-sexualised cartoon, Jessica Rabbit. Bloated, swollen and rougher than her predecessor, she exaggerates the notion of unsatisfactory delights and the non-erotic. Despite this, Oli’s figure is still a sultry femme fatale with the ability to chastise her male counterparts. With rumours slowed frames (from the film) reveal a nude Jessica, the concept of sexualisation of a non-human is emphasised and paths the way for the fetishism of the un-gendered; linking to the forms Oli presents.
The sexual objectification persists with the almost excessive use of shine on the lips and heels – or is she just sweltering under the lights of the stage she appears to be on? Melting under the gaze of the onlookers. With her arm propped up to hold the weight of her naked body, there is yet another symbol of sensual innuendo; a cultural comment on the 2000s, the playboy bunny. A reference that Hugh Hefner, editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, described as a “Humorous sexual connotation” that was “frisky and playful”. The rabbit’s symbolism has a somewhat erotic overtone – shy, vivacious and aligns with the overtly sexualised food, all aphrodisiacs in their own right. Yet, once more, not to be dismissed, the inclusion of insects as in Evol Love. Small insertions of reality amongst the allegedly desirable; a reminder that not everything is what it seems.
Yet another masked figure broaching the subject of production and consumption; Fool’s Gold depicts an audacious supervillain on a solo heist for what he foolishly mistakes for something of value. Weaving in a labyrinthine of lasers, tittering on the edge of danger for nothing more than a lump of iron sulphide. Caught off guard by the stone’s superficial resemblance to gold, the figure is soon to join the collective despair of the 1840s US miners who had to give up the concept of living out their lives as multimillionaires. An orchestrated criminal of monkey-like proportions, there is a direct correlation to that of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Suspended, tense and clammy; dripping with the weight of what could play out next.