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The work of Oliver Osborne categorically puts into question the habits of viewing art. In the exhibition Maskulina och Feminina (Europa) Osborne employs a distinct visual grammar of acrylic monochromes, educational illustrations, wordlists, and detailed figurative paintings. The ensuing impressions take turns in dividing, and merging anew, the attitude of the viewer; conventions of meaning dismantled and rejoined as diptychs. The image as a conveyor of knowledge—its force of guidance—is effectively brought into consideration through the weaving together of different spectatorial positions.
The juxtaposition of painting techniques and image languages allows Osborne to create a strange semiotic system, incorporating both textual and visual signs in collage. Whilst remaining faithful to orthodox modes of painting Osborne refuses to privilege the singular. The paintings, traversing any specific form, find their expression in the investigation of dualities and their constitutive relations. The human body seems to drift ceaselessly across the frames, sometimes barely standing on its own, but also taking centre stage in small-scale figure paintings.
Osborne’s exhibition successfully assembles the experience of a reciprocal hemorrhage between the figurative and the literal. Prints, oil paintings, and matt acrylic surfaces present us with a breakdown of the assumptions regulating our patterns of communication. This break is interrogated within and across the images, over the exhibition as a whole. The paintings’ explicit reflection on the conventions informing their own formation is central; representational traditions revisited and re-represented.
Without any privileged point of reference aesthetic experiences are meshed together in a jolting shift of worn positions of knowledge.
Text: Mats Carlsson
Oliver Osborne (b. 1985, Edinburgh, Scotland) is a Scottish artist living and working in Berlin. He studied at Chelsea College of Art and has a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy Schools in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Anna, Vilma Gold, London (2013), and Otto, Frutta, Rome (2013). In 2015 he will have solo exhibitions at Catherine Bastide, Brussels, and Giò Marconi, Milan.