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Alfonso Ossorio

Untitled

mixed media and wax on laid cardboard
1952
65,5 x 100,5 cm / 25 3/4 x 39 1/2 in.

Born in the Philippines in 1916, Ossorio moved to the U.S. at the age of 14 and received his education there. This combination of two different cultural origins deeply affected his later artistic career. Ossorio was a surrealist painter when in 1949 he met Jackson Pollock and became an early collector of his paintings. The two artists influenced each other. The same year Ossorio travelled to Paris to meet Jean Dubuffet, who became a lifelong friend. Dubuffet wrote a monograph on Ossorio, which was published in 1951, and brought him into contact with art brut. Both influences are clearly visible in Ossorio's signature works from that time on: Ossorio combined the freely associating automatism of surrealism with gestural expressionism. In 1950, while Ossorio was in the town of Victorias in the Philippines, painting the 60-square-meter mural “The Angry Christ” for the Chapel of St. Joseph the Worker, he also created ink, wax and watercolour works on paper. The first “wax resist” works were exhibited at Studio Paul Facchetti in Paris, organized by Michel Tapié. The present painting belongs to this series of “wax resist” works. The artist applied layers of wax and watercolour, then ink on top. This technique makes use of the fact that wax repels water, resulting in new and unprecedented effects.

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