The solo exhibition “Faux Real“ at Circle Culture Gallery marks a point of culmination in the work of American artist Olivia Steele.
"Faux Real" includes a collection of truisms, illusions, and illuminated metaphors: Steele employs the traditional commercial medium of neon glass to create a variety of opposing contrasts that serve as a guiding light in the process of self exploration combined with the beautiful side of suffering and the quest for enlightenment. The concepts and statements on show reflect a series of personal self-realizations of the artist as she unravels the threads and unlearns layers of conditioning from a standard American upbringing in this game we all play called life.
“It’s no doubt that the future of humanity is moving into the imagination. As the gap between the impossible and the possible lessens, and the veil on reality and spirituality lifts, certain truths become more evident and hard to deny. A crucial aspect to our evolution as a human race is replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity. “Know Thyself“, a black-lit adage from this collection, brings us to reflect upon our need to nurture our imaginations in the journey to identify one’s purpose or, through self reflection, as you come to discover what is Faux and what is Real.
The discoveries are often as shocking as they are liberating, and as disruptive as they are comforting as we contemplate the great mystery of it all. Like the journey, this exhibition is filled with opposing contrasts and fancy illusions. This is how and why imagination is so crucial to the adaptation and transformation process, which is necessary for evolution and transcendence.

Art has the unique ability to playfully provoke us to use the imagination to negotiate the sheer uncertainty of it all. Assuming we all have free will, imagination dictates the capacity of free will to make decisions and choices about the future without having all the facts. Adaptation is key as we all confront inconvenient truths and uncover shocking realities of our status quo and the uncertainty of our existence. We think we know, but we have no clue really. 

Art is metaphor, and so is this exhibition. I invite you to reflect on the illusions, question my words, test your faith, observe your reactions, and most importantly, make light of this crazy ride we’re on. May my manifestations empower you and amplify your process as we enter into an age of light.“ (Olivia Steele, 2016)

Steele relishes the idea of contrast and contradiction and plays with our innate preconceptions. The juxtaposition of the neon statement and the environment is placed in, challenges conventional semiotics and evokes a wide range of interpretations. In dialogue with media such as nature, photographs and found objects, she tells short stories that evoke thought while enlightening the scenery with elaborate handwritings in neon gas filled glass.