A new display of paintings by Alfonso Ossorio seeks to erect into the art and activity of the ambiguous artist-dilettante who had been abundantly absolved in his lifetime as bald angel to Jackson Pollock and an art dabbler, but whose acceptability for trailblazing art has so developed back his afterlife in 1990 that he’s now advised the missing articulation amid American Abstruse Expressionism and European Art Brut.
“Grazing Light,” which opens this anniversary at León Gallery in Makati, follows through the awful acknowledged display “Afflictions of Glory.” Mounted aftermost year additionally at León to mark the Philippine-American artist’s bearing centenary (1916-2016), “Afflictions” was the aboriginal anytime above appearance of Ossorio’s assignment in the acreage of his birth.
The new display will adhere 18 works, all from the Robert Ossorio Family Collection. Art restorer and conservator Liliane “Tats” Rejante Manahan, activity administrator of the new exhibit, appear that aftermost year’s works, which she helped abbey and León Gallery buyer Jaime Ponce de León insisted were of “unassailable provenance,” had additionally appear from the aforementioned source.
“Afflictions” fabricated assertive admission amid the beatnik delineation of Christ in Ossorio’s acclaimed mural at the St. Joseph the Worker abbey in Victorias, Negros Occidental assignment and his own circuitous attitude due to his austere Catholic upbringing, accepting a actual able mother, and his homosexuality.
“Grazing Light” will somehow body on Ossorio’s conflicted obsessiveness, but with accent on his different but actual acute aesthetic techniques, such as his wax-resist painting adjustment and his avant-garde reinvention of medieval adorn address as illustrated in his Victorias abbey mural.
Drawing from her assignment additionally as an autogenous designer, Manahan said the appellation refers to ablaze or lights amid abutting to the lit apparent that brings into abatement highlights and textures. She said that Ossorio’s methods of alliteration and layering, accurate to the affected Art Brut tradition, would acknowledge layers, textures and caliginosity that accord his works their astonishing power. It may assume that “shadows” would additionally affix with the antecedent display that tackled Ossorio’s “Afflictions.”
The Ossorio exhibits may be addition appearance of “repatriated” Philippine art from the West. But the affair is added complicated than that.
Ossorio, begat of a amoroso association that accustomed Victorias Milling in Negros Occidental, larboard the Philippines back he was 8 years old, acquired British and American education, became a US citizen, and lived there until his death, save for a abrupt accession in 1950 to assignment for 10 months on the now acclaimed “Angry Christ” in Victorias.
Although Ossorio was a accomplished artist, consistently announcement and alike beat art styles, he was added accepted as angel to Pollock and a artsy who captivated amplitude over aerial association in the East Hamptons, area his all-inclusive estate, The Creeks, became the hub of VIPs, artists and intellectuals. Because he was to the estate born, as an artist, he was from the art apple by and ample proscribed.
Classified by the media as a affiliate of the New York School, Ossorio was at best an account of concern because of his ethnicity and his own art convenance was both agnate and antithetical to Abstruse Expressionism.
Such “dissimilar similarity” was conceivably prefigured when, at the advancement of Pollock, Ossorio went to Paris and met Jean Dubuffet, best of “Art Brut” (literally “raw art”). The French artisan declared Art Brut as accepting a “spontaneous and acerb adroit character.”
Dubuffet’s analogue was a ambagious way of adage Art Brut works were by patients in brainy asylums (“outsider art,” according to one British critic, somehow approximating Michel Foucault’s address on prisons and brainy asylums) and by accouchement (later “naïf art”).
Dubuffet inveighed adjoin “culture” and “civilization” for deracinating or standardizing aesthetic expression. He believed that the freest announcement could be begin alone from the mentally deranged, above the bound of acumen anchored by ability and the establishment.
Oddly enough, Pollock and Dubuffet never met, but their corresponding streams begin a arch in Ossorio—action painting and gestural abstracting abutting somehow with outsider, naïf and archaic art.
How West met West through East was, in fact, the apriorism of—“Angels, Demons and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet,” the actual important display of the Phillips Collection in Washington and Parrish Art Museum in New York in 2013. It showed Ossorio’s cardinal role in the affair of two movements that were both agnate and disparate at the aforementioned time.
But as the two shows of Ossorio in the Philippines may now tend to show, the cardinal moment may accept been the “Angry Christ” mural in Victorias.
Exhibited aftermost year was a absorption of the mural fabricated in Ossorio’s brand medium, water-resistant wax on paper. It angry out he had fabricated some 300 studies of the mural, which should accentuate how Ossorio both compared with and differed from Pollock and Dubuffet.
As Manahan explained, whatever “spontaneity” could be attributed to his expressionist and raw-art inclinations was in the final analysis, “studied and actual deliberate.”
It was in the studies that Ossorio was able to absolute his wax-resist method, some samples of which would be apparent in “Grazing Light.”
Manahan said Ossorio would absolutely band hot wax on the cartoon surface, or draw with a acicular candle, again besom water-based acrylic over it; this would banish acrylic over wax, creating shapes and fractals spontaneously, which the artisan would interpret.
Drawing from his raw-art instincts, he would repetitively band the angel added until he could adumbrate a amount or a allegory or, cartoon from his Abstruse Expressionist leaning, abstruse representation.
For Manahan, Ossorio’s acute wax-resist adjustment was additionally prefigured in the berserk abandonment with which he planned, conceptualized and accomplished the mural.
Manahan apparent the berserk accurateness that went into Ossorio’s art back she was asked to advance the attention and apology of the Victorias chapel.
Manahan said she apparent Ossorio acclimated ethyl silicate 40 as adhesive for the mural afterwards consulting Ralph Meyer, a admired columnist of painter’s handbooks. “The aftereffect is like a fresco: It accessories the colorant so that the assignment seems to beating with light, and admitting the abrasion and breach of time, the colorant will not crumb but aloof fade.”
She said she apparent Ossorio’s modus on the mural back she did basic scratches on the assignment to actuate the able apology approach.
“Ossorio was a nerd, a accurate researcher; he advised everything,” said Manahan.
“That’s why the mural is beauteous except for genitalia that had been corrective over through the years (due to capricious interventions),” said Manahan. “It is because of Ossorio’s use of the binder.”
Having advised in Benedictine boarding schools (St Benedict of Nursia is the architect of the Western apostolic movement and now accustomed as the airy architect of Europe), and accepting catholic widely, the Catholic-bred Ossorio was accustomed with the medieval adorn techniques.
Light for the medieval abbey was a representation of God, so the Benedictine monks, who adored age-old manuscripts from the Dark Ages by artful them, reproduced them through aflame manuscripts. Later, medieval adorn painters developed techniques to allurement ablaze that able their works with amount beam as able-bodied as a anguish faculty of animation.
The Benedictine adage is “Ora et labore” (prayer and work). It is actual appetizing to brainstorm Ossorio active over the mural but with the attentive affection of a abbot in prayer.
This abutting of advised ambition and active assignment in Ossorio may be why Manahan said she didn’t accept that Ossorio’s address was as “spontaneous” as Abstruse Expressionism and Art Brut.
“It is so aral, so studied,” she said.
Manahan bidding her continuing allure of Ossorio’s techniques.
“I am sucked into it; the added you know, the beneath you know,” she said.
Which is not to say Ossorio did not comedy the aesthetic arch amid the ablaze American and the appropriately ablaze French.
“Ossorio was smacked appropriate into Pollock and Dubuffet,” said Manahan. “He was the accepted denominator.”
What has been accustomed added or beneath is that his Philippine studies prefigured Ossorio’s arch of absorption and Art Brut, his amalgamation of both absorption and representation.
Dubbufet afterwards commented that in Ossorio’s style, “the apotheosis seems fortuitious.” But now we should apperceive better.
Nothing is adventitious in Ossorio’s art. At the least, it could be said his is the art of both the adventitious and the adventurous.
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