Oliver Arms’ (b. 1970, Arlington, VA) works are characterized by the process in which he builds up and wears down oil paint. His abstract works reflect the tension between man and his experiences.


While working in construction, Arms was exposed to the layers of undercoats of paint while sanding down each wall. Applying this same principle to his technique, Arms utilizes different shades and layers of paint, waits for them to dry, and begins his process of sanding with an industrial sand belt to reveal layers of the multitude of colors underneath. Similar to Jacques Derrida’s theory of Deconstructionism, through his works, Arms explores “how constructs create a dependence on arbitrary components.” In this way, the construction of the final image is interdependent with the “residual effects of time.”


Arms builds up layers of paint only to destroy them—to add only to negate. This counterintuitive nature is the characterization of his process, which in turn is the physical evidence of memory. The contrast between the brittle surfaces and the cancerous concentrations of paint evoke a sense of place, people, and time. The specific titles that Arms gives his works “reaffirm, echo, or cement” the emotionally charged essence of his works. His works are creations that perpetually strive to find reconciliation within destruction.


Born in 1970 in Arlington, VA, Arms launched his career as an artist with a solo exhibition at Western Project, Los Angeles, CA in 2005, followed by different venues, including the Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, NY and Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe, New York, NY.


Arms currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.