Artist Statement

Artist Dorothea Osborn in her studio.
Artist Dorothea Osborn in her studio.

Abstraction and representation compete for dominance in work where I explore the interrelationship between invention and memories of real life (experiences, landscapes, nature, literature, the Anthropocene).

In my work the pictorial subject and surface of the painting become energized realms for negotiation, composition, and harmony, where tension and impression of the image is essentially the critical purpose of the piece. Interwoven abstraction and representation, depth and surface, micro and macro, mark making and rendered objects, the works manifest my interest in the process of painting to create a hybrid state of tension, capturing an essence of time, through initiation and destruction, just as in the Anthropocene.

Pushing the boundaries of painting by using, sometimes, unconventional materials and working the representation/abstraction through multiple phases of creation and destruction, (sometimes, close to obliteration), creates a tension. Into this I enter notions about dichotomies (thus, tensions) between the physical world and the transcendent realm: materialism versus non-material; representation versus abstraction; humor versus solemnity.

Picasso said that no art is truly abstract because the artist always starts from something. The generation of imagery is added to, subtracted, and/or eradicated in a painterly language, both with a conscious and intuitive flow of materials and through a conscious level of semiotics. Some of the altered relationships are formalist structures. The formal elements are those, when transformed, evolve as signifiers in my work. The application, variety, and reworking of materials is crucial. It is multifarious, leading to visible transparency and multiple layers. Layers of depth, impasto, specified detailed surface, and layers of meaning and memories.

My current work is not based on a single motif but on a variety of contemporary issues. My work is process, action, and associative reference where experiences, intellect, and memories negotiate, compose, and harmonize.


Vermont Studio Center