Visual languages explode into view in the paintings of Alejandro Ospina, who manipulates the two-dimensionality of painting to reveal its proximity to the digital world. The artist’s investigation into cyberspace began with a series of portraits depicting social media users, each displaying an interaction between identity and the atemporal space such individuals inhabit. More recently, Ospina began to filter through a broader environment; where architectural spaces collapse into landscapes from news reports, and riot scenes are woven into the interiority of chaotic worlds. It is a familiar place enveloped by the interconnected activity of social networks, the abstract character of which is a feature of a dizzying expansion. The artist utilises the structure of painting to navigate the phenomenon of image making in a networked world of information and consumption.
Ospina’s visual maps are related to the continuous changes in attention prompted by the expansion of the Internet. They aim to simulate the activity of minds as they encounter image after image, accumulating and merging layers of visual information with every blink. Such paintings mutate how sets of images are seen and contemplated, like a stream of information that is never completely understood. To this end, they explore how the Internet has transformed our relationship to images, to space and to each other in unprecedented ways. In complexly schematic paintings (Greba Orokorra, and Broken City, 2013), he incorporates the technological tools available to him to investigate the phenomenon of high-speed information. Ospina digitally filters images with themes found on the Internet before reconstructing them using layers of the same images turning them into abstract associations.
Metaphors of his native Colombia’s political landscape can be seen in glimpses of riots and urban favelas, which coincide with displaced images from social media and historical paintings combined with an expressionistic angst. The excitability of Ospina’s densely visual world comes from the diversity of the fragmented elements that form a cosmic collision of spaces and realities. That which draws the eye to look more closely at Ospina’s palimpsest of images, impressions and representations, is the same force that drives the proliferation of the digital realm. Out of the untenable realties of the collective present, emerges a search for meaning that is increasingly untethered by the pluralities of globalisation and its decentred consumer driven culture. Ospina’s totalising paintings become ever more difficult to grasp as information swirls into ambiguity, opening up a gaping hole into which images are swallowed and ultimately lost.
© Osei Bonsu, 2014