As part of his most recent exhibit “In Plain Sight,” San Francisco-based artist John Osgood participated in a virtual tour with the help of gallery owner Ashley Voss at the Mission District’s Voss Gallery. The Voss Gallery streamed the tour on Instagram Live to create an interactive and immersive experience, in which Voss took viewers through the gallery while Osgood commented on each piece.
Osgood, who grew up in Edmonds, Washington and has a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University, characterizes his style as a mix between Picasso-esque cubism and punchy, graffiti-themed visuals. “Willow,” a painting that Osgood reworked numerous times, is a blue-toned, futuristic portrait of a nude woman peering off to the side in a subtle glance. The piece, done with acrylic and aerosol on canvas, evokes an otherworldly, science fiction atmosphere with turquoise hexagons rising like iridescent leaves in the foreground. Yellow and orange dashes fill the space around the nude figure, creating an intricate pattern of lines that resembles a computer’s motherboard. The face of the woman is oddly distorted, with a second right eye shadowed beneath her eye as if in a glitch.
Working with both canvases and wood panels as his medium, Osgood incorporates elements of raw material into his finished product, such as in his acrylic and oil on wood piece “A Moment to Myself,” which utilizes blank space to showcase the grain of the wood in the panel. During the tour, Osgood noted how he reworks many of his pieces, painting over them until he is satisfied or splitting them up into different pieces. In his approach to art, Osgood considers the way that the materials work with one another as individual parts and how they can work together on the medium.
“The Pieces We Are Made Of” is the most distinctively Picasso-esque piece of the exhibit, featuring various angles of the subject’s face to reflect on issues of nostalgia and collective memory. As the title suggests, the human consciousness is a conglomerated collage of diverse influences and experiences. Osgood duplicates the subject’s eyes to create a warped effect, and in these different eyes, viewers can see all of the figures that the subject has encountered in their life. Slivers of black paint dotted with a galaxy of colors populate the side of the portrait, lending a sense of transcendentality to the image, as if there is more to the world than the human eye can fathom. The contrast between the golden yellow of the right half and the cooler blue of the left half is strikingly dynamic, while the lines and shapes within the face interact to form movement and texture.
“Within Lavender Connections,” a piece on wood panel, highlights the texture that Osgood creates during his process of painting and repainting a piece. Multiple faces join together to produce a network of experiences and connections. The fragmentation of the faces into squares keeps the viewer’s eye moving back-and-forth between each figure. Scrapes of lavender and lilac ground the mosaic of portraits into the medium itself, allowing the physicality of the wood to shine through.
“Procession” is a celebration of color, form and human resilience. The piece engages actively with the viewer, utilizing unique angles and impactful color combinations to construct a 3D perspective. As with many of his other paintings, Osgood includes several hidden messages in “Procession,” such as in the bottom left corner, which reads, “The point at which it ends.” Osgood stated that a large inspiration for the piece was human endurance and solidarity, citing the positive energy of the New Orleans community after Hurricane Katrina as an object of great admiration. The visual landscape features lines crossing paths, symbolizing the intersection of people’s lives together, while the small details that comprise the painting indicate the power of collectivity.
“In Plain Sight” highlights Osgood’s diverse range of talents as an artist, demonstrating how he is able to utilize numerous techniques to design unique paintings that are authentic to his vision and delightfully refreshing. As a whole, the exhibit showcases an optimistic and vibrant view of humanity at a point of great change and innovation. Beneath the plethora of details in each work, Osgood asks the viewer to admire the little things in life and pay attention to detail.