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There’s One thing Particular About Jim Osman’s Sculpture

There’s One thing Particular About Jim Osman’s Sculpture

There's Something Special About Jim Osman's Sculpture

I’ve been puzzling over Jim Osman’s sculptures ever since I first noticed them just a few years in the past in an exhibition that was too crowded for me to essentially see what they had been doing. I knew there was one thing particular about them with out realizing precisely what. 

Sculptures want area regardless of their measurement, and that is notably true of Osman’s works, which invite scrutiny, whilst their complicated constructions encourage viewers to have a look at them from all sides, as some possess nooks and crannies that aren’t the primary focus of the works. On the identical time — and this actually struck me — Osman appears, for essentially the most half, tired of exploring one in every of sculpture’s central tropes: the column, stack, or pile. There are elements that he stacks, however this too is just not the central focus of the items. 

One other factor that obtained my consideration is their scale. We consider sculpture in human phrases, from diminutive to monumental, from Joseph Cornell and Charles Simonds to Richard Serra and Mark di Suvero. Osman’s works don’t fairly match into this spectrum. Actually, they appear at odds with their measurement, which I feel is another excuse why they aren’t higher identified. We can not fairly reconcile our bodily relationship to them partially as a result of they appear to blur the road between purposeful and aesthetic object. 

Set up view of Jim Osman: Walnut: Second Collection at McKenzie Positive Artwork. Foreground: “Vas” (2019), wooden, paint, and forged paint, 17 1/2 x 16 x 11 3/4 inches (courtesy McKenzie Positive Artwork)

The standard of not fairly realizing how you can place Osman’s work throughout the historical past of sculpture should be a place to begin. That feeling solely obtained stronger after I noticed the exhibition Jim Osman: Walnut: Second Collection at McKenzie Positive Artwork (March 2-April 3, 2022). Osman teases out the connection between floor and factor, between wooden grain (or knothole) and the framing form, or establishes a tonal relationship between the paint’s and the wooden’s coloration. The one different sculptor I can consider who explored the relation between a factor’s patterned floor and its type is Minoru Niizuma, whose work is included in a latest present I curated, The Unseen Professors at Tina Kim Gallery.

By bringing collectively elements of playground structure, multi-level stage units, movable screens, fences, furnishings, and portray, and infusing his constructions with whimsy, wonderment, and eager attentiveness to surfaces and materiality, Osman achieves one thing distinct. His sculptures exist someplace between open enclosures and platforms during which the help and the article are equally vital, as are all of the surfaces, together with the perimeters. His work is definitely not like every other sculpture being celebrated in museums or {the marketplace} — relatively than manipulating the supplies, and underscoring his dominance over them, Osman seems to let his supplies dictate his responses. 

Jim Osman, “Lectern” (2021), wooden, paint, and copper, 55 x 13 x 6 inches (picture by Christian Nguyen, courtesy McKenzie Positive Artwork)

For one a part of “Charme” (2020, wooden, plaster, and paint, 19 1/2 by 9 by 12 1/2 inches), Osman aligns 5 strips of wooden based on their round rings, inserting them at completely different heights. This causes a number of the traces to unfurl throughout all of the strips, every of which has been stained a barely completely different coloration, starting from mustard yellow to brown. How may we characterize this facet of “Charme”? Is it a drawing or an instance of nature drawing? 

When you discover these visible rhymes and echoes, others turn out to be obvious, such because the free alignment of knotholes on bigger wooden boards. After I considered how the piece would look enlarged, I acknowledged that the dimensions of the knotholes was a figuring out issue within the scale. Osman appeared to chop some items in an effort to heart or body the knothole. 

Totally different sorts of relationships are established in Osman’s works, of their wooden grain and coloration. Lots of the items are on cabinets jutting from the wall, with sufficient area between them that viewers can stroll round and intently look at them. He shares with Donald Judd and Robert Ryman, for instance, an consideration to how issues are joined; the {hardware} is seen and integral to the work. 

Set up view of Jim Osman: Walnut: Second Collection at McKenzie Positive Artwork. Left: “Okay Truss” (2021), wooden, paint, brass, and {hardware}, 45 x 22 x 29 inches. Proper: “Charme” (2020), wooden, plaster, and paint, 19 1/2 x 9 x 12 1/2 inches (courtesy McKenzie Positive Artwork)
Jim Osman, “Charme” (2020), wooden, plaster, and paint, 19 1/2 x 9 x 12 1/2 inches (picture by Christian Nguyen, courtesy McKenzie Positive Artwork)

In “Pink Fade” (2021, wooden and paint, 11 1/2 by 13 1/2 by 14 inches), Osman joins three planar constructions at proper angles, edge to edge, enabling the sculpture to face by itself whereas transferring via area. By portray one aspect of two of the planar constructions, he units up a dynamic between easy, painted floor and aligned wooden grain and unpainted floor (between line and coloration). There isn’t a didactic intent behind his choice to color one aspect and never the opposite. 

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Osman’s curiosity within the two sides of a aircraft shares one thing with the work of Anthony Caro, the British sculptor who was as soon as thought to have outdated David Smith however is now not in favor. Whether or not he was impressed by Caro or not makes no distinction to me, because the unlikely affiliation serves as reminder of how shortly and simply individuals conform to the prevailing style. 

Osman, to his credit score, appears to have rejected the necessity to work massive. This isn’t to say he’s a miniaturist, as a result of “Lectern” (2021) is 55 inches in peak. He’s delicate to wooden grain patterns, coloration, and floor. He makes use of OSB, a form of particleboard, together with different kinds of finer pure wooden. He tends to chop the wooden into solely planar shapes. Along with paint and {hardware}, he makes use of plaster and coloured paper. Because the exhibition’s title conveys, Osman’s curiosity in wooden can also be pushed by its varieties; walnut is an American hardwood that has distinctive patterns and is straightforward to form. 

Jim Osman, “Display” (2021), wooden, paint, and forged paint, 9 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 8 inches (courtesy McKenzie Positive Artwork)

Are Osman’s sculptures visions of cities, stage units, or designs for a playground? Is it needed to have the ability to title them in an effort to respect them? There’s a lot to unpack within the items and the best way they he works with paint and wooden grain, utilized and pure coloration, in addition to how he questions the boundaries separating portray from sculpture. Would possibly we not see the framed orange, yellow, and blue rectangle in “Marquee” (2021, wooden, paint, and paper, 62 by 16 1/2 by 17 inches) as an affectionate nod to minimalist geometric portray? Do you see it as having a back and front, like a freeway billboard? What does that inform you? Osman’s take care of and a focus to his modest supplies, the particularities of their id, is uncommon in a society the place extra is widely known day by day.

Jim Osman: Walnut: Second Collection continues at McKenzie Positive Artwork (55 Orchard Road, Decrease East Facet, Manhattan) via April 3. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.

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