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Alfonso Ossorio: The Child Returns, 1950 - Philippines, Expressionist Paintings on Paper

November 5, 1998 – January 9, 1999


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Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is pleased to present Alfonso Ossorio: The Child Returns, 1950 - Philippines, Expressionist Paintings on Paper. This exhibition consists of thirty paintings on paper which Alfonso Ossorio executed in 1950 while creating a mural for the altar in the Chapel of St. Joseph the Worker on the island of Negros in Victorias, Philippines.

Ossorio, born in the Philippines and educated abroad, returned to his homeland in 1950 for the first time in twenty-five years. Throughout his career, Ossorio’s Catholic upbringing and multicultural Filipino heritage remained integral to his artistic expression and his 1950 stay in the Philippines profoundly inspired him to create this provocative body of paintings.

Visually, the works included in this exhibition are densely calligraphic and generally abstract. Linear compositions which suggest religious and ritualistic motifs populate many of the works. Several of the paintings are executed on shaped paper which have been crafted with roughly torn edges. Other works have elegant cut-out slivers within the images. Ossorio created all of the paintings in this exhibition

with the technique known as "wax resist". Wax resist is defined as the use of wax in combination with a water-based media such as watercolor, ink or gouache, usually on a paper support. Wax is applied to the paper, either in a hot liquid form or by a cold rubbed method. The various water-based media are applied on top of the wax and because the wax "resists" them, they flow off of the wax covered areas, penetrating only into areas of the paper not covered by the wax.

Ossorio’s return to the Philippines in 1950 was significant as it conjured memories and inner-conflicts about his family, religion, sexual and racial identity. At this time, Ossorio was developing close relationships with Jackson Pollock and Jean Dubuffet. In 1950, Ossorio was sending his paintings from the Philippines to his friend Jackson Pollock in New York. In 1951, Ossorio spent much of that year with Dubuffet in Paris at which time Dubuffet published an essay on Ossorio, "Peintures Initiatiques D’Ossorio," which includes illustrations of some of the works completed in the Philippines. Works included in this exhibition suggest the vital, complex, and undiscovered triangular relationship between Ossorio, Pollock and Dubuffet.