Lance Austin Olsen is a Canadian painter and sound composer. His work focuses on the dialogue between his abstract paintings, and his parallel work in composing tone poems, utilizing amplified objects, found audio tape, and tabletop guitar. The physicality of his large-scale paintings, often incorporating collaged and repurposed pieces of earlier work, is echoed in his sound compositions, where objects within the painting studio are appropriated as sound-making gestural devices.

“This movement between abstract sounds and abstract painting has created a situation where composition has become painterly, and painting has become musical – graphical scores that can be used as directional beacons for audio.”

Olsen was born in London 1943, and trained in printmaking and painting at Camberwell School of Art from 1959 to1965, before emigrating to Western Canada in 1968.

In early 1997, Olsen met sound and visual artist Jamie Drouin, and immediately developed an interest in experimental music, organizing a series of local experimental sound performances, and co-founding the experimental label Infrequency Editions with Drouin in 2001. Olsen continues to collaborate with Drouin, with several well-received albums in their 20+ year discography.

Olsen has also collaborated with various international musicians and sound artists such as crys cole, Bruno Duplant, Pedro Chambel, Ryoko Akama, Joda Clement, Mathieu Ruhlmann, Terje Paulsen, Gil Sanson, Barry Chabala and Tim Clement, expanding both his knowledge and technical mastery composing with sound.

In 2017, Olsen was featured in the esteemed series Canadian Contemporary Composers produced by the UK label Another Timbre.

Photographs by Jamie Drouin