The artist William Osorio, born in Cuba in 1989 and living in the United States since 2007, has just opened his first personal exhibition in Miami, titled Inside Out.
With Inside Out, William Osorio has decided to portray his life. The one that his restless eyes perceive and guard in that special place, untouched by many, where emotion and analysis unite. On observing his pieces at a casual glance, we could speak of a renovated or rescaled expressionism. Yet with him, I’d rather think of a visceral neo-expressionism.
He does not pretend to create portraiture, although he does. And he achieves this in a manner that cannot be matched by a traditional photographer. His pieces are portraits and, concurrently, are not portraits. I would say that we are faced with discoveries, doubts, fears, pains, and illusions. Emotions in the form of portraits, one step away from the post-vanguard. Within the pursuit of his vision, he is no stranger to those sempiternal agitations that live in the great artists. Yet his goal, aviating through the tightrope of figurative perspicuity and of abstract discourse, is to take yet another step forward. And he attains it.
His world is his painting and his painting is his world. A very particular portraitist of existence. He opens his lens like an immense funnel to recount stories. Troubadour of images. In his work we find the bedazzlement of an island kinsman faced with the visual onslaught of extraordinary conurbations, the grandfatherly epic that is the history of his island, the sapient tenderness of the fiancée, the family victories, the downfall of the heroes that he never met, desire and terror, love and destiny, his subconscious palavering with the paintbrush, with the tips of his fingers, with his fists. And in all of them, his eyes, watching them, watching himself.
Bearing witness. Sacred labor of all creators. And even more so if we are concerned, as in the case of Osorio, with an artist of the unexpected. The countenances that captivate and obsess him are inevitable paths in the pursuit of responses to human behavior. We will never know, with scientific certainty, and perhaps Osorio himself will never know, if it is he who discovers those countenances or if it is those countenances who discover him. Perhaps he is the bridge, or even the pretext.
He rambles along the avenues of identity through the complexities of human behavior, not only in its individual but in its collective expressions. And he has ventured to this peripeteia, uniting the monsters of reason and of feeling, after relating to, and assuming the concomitant challenges of, Sigmund Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis, the structure of identity and the fundamental concepts that are employed to examine the mapping and the functioning of the human psyche: the id, the ego, and the superego.
In this series, he embarks on an exploration not only of his identity but rather of a labyrinth of identities. “Human behavior and the sociocultural issues that surround me influence my work”, he has asserted. He wants to observe, like a singular guardian of emotive elements, human beings as much in their nervous collectivity as in their most traversed solitudes. Consequently, he has recognized feeling influenced at once by Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Eric Fischl, Jenny Saville, and Adrian Ghenie.
Another theoretical-literary reference is The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, by french sociologist Gustave Le Bon. This book caught Osorio’s attention in a profound manner by connecting him with some of the characteristics of the psychology of the masses: “impulsivity, irritability, incapacity for reasoning, the absence of judgment from a critical spirit, and the exaggeration of sentiment”.
There is an affirmation from the Frenchman that has captivated the painter: “an individual who has been immersed in a group for some time finds himself – whether as a consequence of the magnetic influence of the multitude or for
some other unknown reason – in a special state, very similar to a state of fascination, where the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotist.” Osorio has remarked that “based on these ideas I practice observational work in my environment, wherein I analyze the cultural and social conduct of those around me, along with my own, translating such behaviors to the visual setting”.
He seeks the multispectral countenance that constitutes the human being. A perhaps impossible adventure. Yet doubtless, one of the most human adventures. This is why he feels so comfortable working with canvases of large dimension, wherein he applies, with more liberty than custom, corpulent layers of paint, thus creating forms and textures wherein the volume at once becomes a sculptural element.
Each piece by Osorio is marked by its collision with an emotion, or with more than one. But his art, if it is clearly born from the search for the why of those emotions, does not remain there, in the simple representation of the impact. He is an artist who is interested in finding his replies. His creation is the child of the lucid exploration of exodus, of recognizing his most visceral identity to rescale his vision. It will always be a pleasure to find a creator
who transcends the scenographic limits of his identity since, moving beyond theme and form, few accomplish this.
Those who open themselves to his pieces will be able to contemplate the intense dialog between the mind of the creator and his emotions. And those who acquire them, those privileged to contemplate them throughout diverse instances of life, beyond enjoying the skill and imagination of the artist, will be able to corroborate that place where William Osorio’s art is born, his created universes and those still left to be created.
The fault, once again, lies with those who adventure to chronicle art. To Luisa Lignarolo and Sergio Cernuda, I extend my thanks for this sacral mission that is the celebration of beauty and talent. And to something very important, to taking on faith their commitment to these emotions that portray us today. With Osorio’s pieces. With the eyes of all.
Translated by Gined Vitali Ganem
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