Oliver Jeffers works with a range of media including painting, typography, collage, installation and cartography. His practice is heavily influencd by the culture of his hometown of Belfast, where he grew up. "My interest in duality, as a continuing theme in my art, is definitely born from the contradictions inherent in being Northern Irish", he says. "There's also a sense of humour that's particular to Northern Ireland – a darkness that underpins everything, where nothing is sacred and everything can be laughed at".
This humour and curiosity are underlying themes throughout Oliver's practice. While he does seriously explore the ways in which the human mind understands its world, the execution of his work often involves some sort of comic relief. The Dipped Paintings (2014) are among his most recoginsable works. The portraits are lowered into vats of bright enamel obscuring the bulk of the image, to look at the relationship between censorship and ignorance.
Discussions with a quantum physicist have inspired Oliver to include many references to science. "It reflects my curiosity about how the world works. In art there is no wrong answer to anything, in engineering there certainly is", he says. "It's individuality versus uniformity." In the Fathom (2015) series, Oliver contrasts a traditional artistic depiction of the ocean with formal scientific measurements. In this way he examines the often sisyphean quest for self-improvement in its many forms, pondering both the arrogance of man and the temptation to be brutally ignorant. Yet through his sensitive style, ear for laughter, and lightness of touch, the viewer is able to contemplate these questions in good faith.
While his art dwells on thoroughly grown-up issues in an enviably considered fashion, Jeffers is noted for his hugely acclaimed children's picture books, including the July 2013 New York Times number one bestseller The Day the Crayons Quit. He's won a stunning amount of silverware for these treasured tomes, including the 2011 Victoria and Albert Museum Book Illustration Award. His lauded 2009 animation Lost and Found won a BAFTA and he's received an Emmy for his film work promoting Brooklyn festival Artwalk.
His work has been exhibited in The National Portrait Gallery in London, The Brooklyn Museum, New York, and The Gestalten Space, Berlin to launch his monograph Nothing to See Here, among other places. Oliver Jeffers now lives and works in Brooklyn.
Born Port Hedland, Australia 1977
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2015 Celebrating 10 Years of Lost and Found, The Illustration Cupboard, London
2014 How to Catch a Star, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Center, London
2014 Illuminations, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
2013 Nothing To See Here, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2012 Here or There, Gestalten Space, Berlin
2010 The Art of Oliver Jeffers, Plop Galleria, Santiago
Selected Group Exhibitions
2016 Mind Storm, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York
2016 Still Here: A Decade of Lazarides, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2015 Spring Break Art Fair, Skylight, New York
2014 Outsiders Pulp, The Outsiders, Newcastle
2012 GO, Brooklyn Museum, New York
2011 Work/Space, Invisible Dog Gallery, New York
2010 Visions of the Future, Gallery Hanahou, New York
2010 Surrealism, David Turner Gallery, Atlanta, USA
2008 BP Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London
2008 Panorama Project 3, Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York