Sébastien OSSWALD (SO) is a young artist, who graduated from the Fine Art Superior Institute in Besançon, France.
He takes us into a world both strange and sensitive, imaginative and real.
His detailed paintings lead us to ask questions about contemporary issues: globalization, the place of new media and virtual relationships between individuals.
The paintings allow us to see what makes us universal, and at the same time unique.
Most of his work is on plaid fabric which is his canvas and enables him to paint according to the pattern of the material. Thus he must work within the constraints of the cloth: its size, pattern, and material to create a pictorial language of his own. The result is a particular energy where each aspect of colour and texture is considered.
You can see both celebrities and ordinary people in SO’s paintings: images which exist in real life and virtually on the web.
Like other contemporary artists (Tomas Ruff, Ida Tursik & Wilfried Mille), social networks and web sites are all sources of inspiration: images of celebrities that no one can escape, representative people of our time, common images, sometimes even crude: they all take a new significance once you look at them on a canvas.
The ways in which we perceive such images has changed a lot in the last few years with the advent of digital technology and it is this that SO makes us conscious of.
When we look, we first see the digitalized image and the pixel, but these do not exist in reality because we are, of course, looking at a painting, the style of which has evolved from Pop art through New Realism to Chuck Close or Gerhart Richter.
In a period when everything moves so fast and when we don’t have much spare time, SO asks us to take time to look.
His paintings reflect our time, but are created over a long period. They need concentration and study in order to understand their balance between abstraction and representation, between colour and pattern, between craftsmanship and digital technology.
You need to take the time to come close and discover the detail of the work, at the same time as stepping back to the appropriate distance to understand it.
The paintings are made up of thousands of abstract units, that interact.
The pictorial writing is also complex: you can understand it, but it remains mysterious: it comes from the balance between the pattern (the idea that leads to the painting) and the choices the artist made.
He works as an abstract painter when filling the canvas: the squares in the patterns allow him to focus on colour and he has no need to consider representation or figuration.
SO reminds us that a painting is just another sort of screen, with a virtual interior and offering a new link between the artist, the observer and the person on the canvas.
This work would have made no sense twenty years ago. Each painting is of its time, and raises questions about what painting means in the 21st century.
SO now lives in China, in Wuhan, an enormous city of 10 million inhabitants. This place is rapidly changing and may soon overtake the west in its progresses and failures.
Isn’t this the right place to question the role of the individual in a world where materialism overwhelms humanity ?