In IMT Gallery’s first exhibition of painting, Colombian artist Alejandro Ospina confronts the traditions of portraiture with the manufacture and dissemination of images in the digital age.
In fotolog/, Ospina explores the conflict between history and language of portraiture as "high art" and the technology and circumstances of image making and dissemination in the 21st Century. His work presents a critical approach to the customs and intentions of portraiture crucial to the complexity of its predicament as a subject for contemporary painting.
Using a sophisticated knowledge of the language of portraiture and painting developed through studying both at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art and the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, Ospina paints digital low-resolution amateur photographs snapped for Web 2.0 networking sites. The resultant symbiosis of differing method and purpose drastically alters how we think about historical and contemporary representations of identity.
The compositions, environments and expressions of Ospina’s source material may appear amateurish and spontaneous, however such appearances mask the highly sophisticated visual language of the photographers, learnt through their concentrated exposure to popular television, music, video and film and, not least, the cultures and sub-cultures of the World Wide Web. At once Ospina’s work therefore explores the establishment of representation and the untamed undercurrents of identity through which the young people in the images choose to present themselves.
By using found photographs of young people frequently posing naked or semi-naked for a camera, and in many cases shot as reflection in a mirror, Ospina forces painting to address one of the most topical discourses of representation and identity in the age of interaction through digital media. The sexualised identities and risqué images directly address the problematic question of consent and liability in terms of the naked bodies of young people in today’s world of user-generated media. For Ospina such concerns become intentionally confused with the concept of “the nude” in art history. The sexualisation of the nude and the shifting relationship between artist and model evident in these works, directly challenge their audience with conflicting debates on the body, image and ownership, and both our and Ospina’s position as it fluctuates between viewer and voyeur.
Alejandro Ospina was born in Bogota, Colombia and has exhibited widely in the UK and the Americas including The Creekside Open (Victoria Miro), Paradise Row, London, Nuevos Nombres (Luis Angel Arango), Centro Cultural Salamanca and Christopher Paschall XX21 Gallery, Bogota. Ospina will be exhibiting at Whitebox and Witzenhausen Gallery in New York later this year.
IMT Gallery, Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9NQ