Who Art Miami 2020: William Osorio By​ Victoria Menache

A photo of William Osorio in front of his painting called: In Conversation With Simon, 2020
Oil and acrylic on canvas. (77 x 88 in)
[Photo courtesy of LNS Gallery]

[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

Artist Quote:

“Good art makes and creates emotions. Great art makes you think, reflect, question yourself. Anything less than that is superfluous entertainment.”

William Osorio

Student Biography

My name is Victoria Menache and I am currently a junior at Florida International University majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics with a minor in Chemistry. My goal is to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. The arts and sciences have always been something I have been passionate about. I danced competitively for 9 years and have tremendous respect and love for the art form that is dance and the arts. This passion stemmed from my grandfather as he was a doctor and a painter. He combined his two passions and that is what I plan to do in my future. I remember when I was younger, I used to be very scared of the doctor’s office so I aspire to be a pediatrician and incorporate the arts into making the doctor’s office not so terrifying to children.

Artist Biography and Statment

The Ineffable Being, 2019. [Photo courtesy of LnS gallery] Based on a photo of Williams mother.
[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

William Osorio is a Miami-based artist from Holguin, Cuba. His curiosity for the arts started at a very young age. He spoke about how there was not really a specific moment where he had an epiphany or realization that he was an artist. It came through years of practice and support from his parents. “I was just like any other kid, I played sports and from time to time I would draw. Every time I would show my parents or grandparents something I created they would celebrate it and treat it as the best thing in the world. This provided me with a surge of confidence and urged me to continue to practice.” His mother saw his talent and decided to put him into art school. While attending art school for 2 years, he seized his academic studies, stating, “The absence of a formal school environment, in a way, liberated me in my career.” In 2007, he emigrated to the United States and settled in Boston until he finally moved to Miami, Florida, where he is now represented by LnS Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Coconut Grove. He recently was given the opportunity to go to Colorado and be a part of a 5-week residency program in the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. He recalls this as being a life changing experience where he was able to really focus on his work. He worked on two big paintings, 3 small portraits, a limited series in printmaking, and a portrait of each of the 14 Miami artists that took part in the residency program. He was able to get out of his comfort zone and really focus on his craft. This was also the first time he was able to be a part of a residency program and an experience he will never forget. 

Osorio adheres to artists like Francis Bacon, Diego Velázquez, Egon Schiele, and Francisco Goya, appreciating the way they approach a painting. His work is also mostly inspired by different pieces of literature, noting, “I read more than I paint.” Whether it be fiction, poetry, or plays, reading liberates him to ask questions and channel the curiosity he’s had since childhood. His favorite writer is Jorge Luis Borges, who was an Argentine short-story writer, poet and translator, and a significant figure in the development of the Spanish Language and universal literature. He also appreciates the work of Simone de Beauvoir, who was a French writer and existentialist philosopher. Philosophy is also established in his work as well. “I like to use literature more like a certain foundation of truth, like a spring of metaphors, as a way of paying homage to the great minds of history, which are somehow my benefactors.”

Personal Identity

Isa, 2020. Oil and acrylic on paper, 30 x 22.5 inches. [Photo courtesy of LnS]
[All photos CC BY 4.0]

The support from his parents and grandparents gave him confidence to continue and practice in the arts. His relationships with those around him also have a great impact on his work. The relationship he has with his family, his girlfriend, his friends, influences his work because he uses them as muses in his work. He also mentions how there can be many rules in the arts, yet the liberation he had from school gave him the ability to break those rules, without even realizing he had. He would mix certain colors that astounded his friends who graduated from the same school. This sense of spontaneity and freedom is evidently shown in his work. 

Cultural Identity

Los Ojos de Gloria, 2019. Oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches. [Photo Courtesy of LnS Gallery] This is based on a photo of Williams’s grandmother.
[All Photos CC BY 4.o]

When talking about the importance of cultural and national identity, Osorio starts off by analyzing the meaning of the word identity itself. Identity comes from the Latin word ‘idem,’ meaning always the same. If that is true, then that would mean that us human beings are never changing, but that is simply not the case. “I like to think that we are open to change and possibility towards an infinitely open future, instead of being condemned by traditions,” Osorio explains. His Cuban culture impacts his work, along with classical Greek gods and philosophers, 16thcentury European paintings, and authors like Voltaire, Dostoyevsky, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger and many more. A compilation of these things take part in inspiring him to reflect on not only his work, but on himself. He views being able to understand and interpret these artists, authors, and philosophers into his work as a great accomplishment. When it comes to his Cuban culture, he sees it as something given to him, as he never chose to be Cuban. Yet as an adult, he chose to study the minds of these great philosophers, artists, and authors, and merges them with traditional portraits of individuals that are familiar to him.

When asked if he follows a specific artistic movement, he spoke about his admiration for Classical Greek culture, noting, “This is a culture that laid the artistic, philosophical, and political foundations upon which the current Western civilization rests.” He also has an appreciation for the Baroque period due to its strong use of lights, shadows, and color, and specifically admires the work of Egon Schiele, stating that “his ability to simplify and the sentiment that dwells in the portraits are truly captivating in my opinion.”

Subject of Artwork

Contingency, 2019. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 48 x 60 inches. [Photo courtesy of LnS Gallery]
The word Contingency means probability, something is bound to happen rather than something could happen. “I aim to fracture the figure, to divorce them from the conventionality of the human figure.” – William Osorio talking about both Contingency and Contingency II.
 
[All Photos CC By 4.0]
Contingency II, 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches. This is piece is one of his newer works that he will be showing in his upcoming exhibit in 2020. [Photo Courtesy of LNS gallery]
[All Photos CC By 4.0]

Osorio’s newer works focus on the human condition and on the idea of how we are conditioned to certain behaviors dealing with our identity. In other words, are we the way we are because we want to be or are we the way we are because we were conditioned to be like that? His newer works focus on this concept and that of identity. He uses the psychological concept of the ID, Ego, and Superego from Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality. He attempts to represent a conventional genre of portraits in a nonconventional way. Starting from philosophical thoughts, he tries to manifest it in a visual sense. His objective with most of his pieces is to ask an insightful question about the human condition. “The human being is a central focus in my work and I touch social issues laterally,” Osorio states. He uses references to different works from literature or poems. An example would be one of his most recent works titled In Conversation with Simone, based on Simone de Beauvoir’s book, The Second Sex. Simone de Beauvoir’s book expresses and attempts to articulate history from a feminist perspective, opening up the conversation to alternative viewpoints regarding women and their place in society. 

Conversation with Simone 2020. Oil and acrylic on canvas 77 x 88 inches. [Courtesy of LnS Gallery] [All Photos CC by 4.0]

Formal Elements of Artwork

How the artist’s work relates to a broader social and cultural context?

Beatrice Viterbo, 2019 oil and acrylic on canvas 28 x 22 inches.  [Courtesy of LnS Gallery]
This was the first portrait of the series, therefore the initial inspiration to the series. This painting is based off a book called “El Aleph” by Jorge Luis Borges. The story starts off by talking about a character named Beatrice Viterbo. She is a person in the story that exists but only in memory. Osorio had a photo of his grandmother and it was in really bad condition, so he saw the parallel connection between Beatrice Viterbo and drew her memory.  

[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

Sculptures are a great influence in Osorio’s paintings with regards to the variation in texture. Osorio began with oil painting, adding great texture to his work because oil paint dries from the outside to the inside. He compares this to the human body and how the blood runs through our veins. With any puncture to our exterior, blood will come out, signifying that we are alive. The same idea happens with oil painting, and how with one puncture to a thick slab of dry oil paint, it remains wet. “What we see on the surface is internally changing. As the painting dries and time goes by, we will see how the exterior changes through time as well,” Osorio notes. Looking at his paintings years after finishing them, he would notice and appreciate the minuet differences. He compared it to seeing an old friend. You haven’t seen them in a long time, and then when you see them years later, they look different.

In his older works, his use of oil paint was more slammed, swirled, and beautifully disorganized. His newer works contain sharp geometric lines, with a mixture of bright, colorful, structured details. These geometric lines reference to what we could call a structure that has been placed in our society. There are a multitude of things in our life that are very planned and calculated, and the abstract elements in Osorio’s works are a reference of mathematics and organization and are then thrown behind the portrait of these individuals to ask questions about identity. 

Exhibition and Project History

Group Exhibitions

From 2008-2012 Osorio took part in different group exhibitions at various galleries in Boston, when he was staying there. When he came to Miami he participated in a Collective Debut and an Oolite group exhibition at the LnS Gallery in 2017. He also participated in the Spectrum Art Fair Miami Arts Week in 2016. His first solo exhibition took place here in Miami at the LnS Gallery in 2018. This was a monumental moment in his career as it was the first time he was exhibiting his work on his own. He donated his time and made a mural of ,famous baseball player, Jackie Robinson at Charles R. Drew K-8 Center in Liberty City for Miami Marlins Impact Week. Lastly, he recently did a 5 week residency at the Anderson Ranch located in Colorado.

Osorio is currently represented by LnS Gallery, located in Miami, FL and co-owned by Luisa Lignarolo and Sergio Cernuda. His first exhibition with LNS was in 2017, and he is currently working on his next exhibition that is expected to be in September. When asked which experiences were the most important for him in his career, he mentioned two events. He spoke about how important his first solo exhibition at  LnS Gallery was. He stated that this was the first time a gallery gave him something to do on his own and describes it as a large turning point in his career. Something he treasures greatly was the fact that they created a catalog to accompany the exhibition, which served as, “[…] not only as a memory, but as a tangible object representing that moment.” 

Another experience that was very important to him was when he donated his time to make the mural for Miami Marlins Impact Week. This fulfilled him in a different way as he was used to painting and creating on his own and this was the opposite, as he worked with kids, cameras, and multiple people at once. This change of environment was refreshing and a great memory to have.  

Student Perspective

Eve, 2019 oil and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24. [Photo Courtesy of LnS Gallery] Based on a portrait of his mother.

[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

When given the chance to choose a local Miami Artist I chose William Osorio due to his innovative use of colors and textures. I came across his work as I was attending an opening at the LNS gallery. While I was exploring and looking at the numerous works from different Miami artists, Osorio’s work caught my eye. His paintings remind me of the way my grandfather painted. When I was younger I would watch him paint in his study for hours and looking at Osorio’s work I felt as if I was transported back into that moment as a child. I was enthralled by the piece “Eve”, which was a portrait of his mother. 

I was able to speak with him later on that night and he went over his process and why he paints the way he does. This instantly sparked my interest and when I had asked to interview a local Miami artist through my class with Professor John Bailly, Osorio was my first choice. It was an overall surreal experience to be able to get to know him. He is a very relaxed and intellectual individual, curious to know and understand more about life and human beings in general. His passion and authenticity are demonstrated in his work. I admire his cleverness and thought process and learned a lot about the importance of demonstrating the question rather than answering it. This was an amazing opportunity and I am very grateful to have been given the chance to interview someone like William Osorio.

Citations:

“Curriculum Vitae.” William Osoriowww.williamosorioart.com/biography.

Elisa, and Turner. “William Osorio: Inside Out.” Delicious Line, Delicious Line,  deliciousline.org/review/242.

Media, Marlins. “Making An IMPACT: Beautification Project at Charles R. Drew K-8 Center.” Medium, Beyond the Bases, 29 Aug. 2019, beyondthebases. mlblogs.comaking-an-impact-beautification-project-at charles-r- drew-k-8-center-cd85d27df32e.

“William_Osorio_Curriculum_Vitae.” LnSGallery.com, 31 Jan. 2020,  lnsgallery.com/william_osorio_curriculum_vitae/.

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